Aug. 29, 2012
Columbia, MO. - As the Mizzou men's cross country team starts off their season, there will be a lot of new faces sporting the black and gold. On a team with 11 returners, the 18-man incoming class is certainly a big addition to the program. However, as Head Coach Joe Lynn points out, "I wasn't just looking for numbers, but talent as well. We have some high-end talent here."
That is certainly true, as this freshmen class boasts not only a Footlocker National Finalist in Evan Chiplock (Saginaw, MI) and a USATF National Finalist for the 800m in Will Crocker (Belvidere, IL) but multiple State Champions, All-State athletes, and school record holders. Off the course, these young men are equally as accomplished, earning Scholar Athlete, Academic All-Conference, Academic All-State, and National Scholar Athlete Awards, not to mention their club and school government involvement.
For some, freshman year began a little early, as seven of them decided to spend the summer taking summer classes and begin their training together.
"They got adjusted to life here before the season and school year started," Coach Lynn said. "They started taking the initiative on their own and training, and I think that's really going to help them out big time."
One of the stand-outs of this talent-packed freshman class is certainly Chiplock, who was 27th in the Nation for the 2011 Footlocker National Championships, a 4-time New Balance National Qualifier in track (5000m Outdoor in 2011, 1 mile Indoor for 2010 and 2011, and 3200m Outdoor in 2012), and the Gatorade Runner of the Year for Michigan in 2011.
"From day one, it was kind of a natural fit for him to come here," Coach Lynn said. "Evan's one who's been working out with the top group quite a bit, looking great in workouts."
Chiplock was also Michigan State Champion for the 3200m in both Indoor and Outdoor (2011) Track, took 2nd in the 3200m for Outdoor (2012), All-State for Cross Country in 2009 and 2010, and a member of a 4-time Top 10 Team Finishes in Cross Country.
Another key recruit is Drew White (Crystal City, MO), who "is arguably one of the top 5 distance runners from the state of Missouri ever", Coach Lynn said. And, looking at his resume, it's hard to argue. White was All-State for Cross Country in 2009 (9th), 2010 (2nd), and State Champion in 2011. In Track, White was All-State for the 1600m in 2011 (5th) and 2012, and State Champion in the 3200m in 2011 and 2012.
"[He is] obviously an extremely talented kid, hard worker, great all-around person," Coach Lynn said. "He's someone any coach would want on their program. Drew is going to do huge things."
Will Crocker (Belvidere, IL), who was a finalist in the 800m for the 2012 USATF National Meet, is another exciting recruit for Coach Lynn and his team. "[He's] a very savvy racer," Coach Lynn said. "He's stronger on the track in the mid-distance events, but cross country is really going to do some big things for him as far as getting him stronger and some great experience."
Crocker was All-State in the 800m in 2011 (7th) and 2012 (4th), State Champion in the 4x800m in 2011, and All-State for Cross Country in 2011 (16th). He was also part of a 3-time State Champion Cross Country team (2009-11) and a 5th ranked team in the country for Cross Country in 2010.
Columbia native Jordan Cook is also a member of this impressive freshman class. The 800m State Champion in 2012, Cook was also All-State in the 1600m (2012), 4x800m (2011 and 2012), and Cross Country (2009, 2010, and 2011). Cook also qualified for the Cross Country Nationals in 2011.
"It's always nice to keep the hometown kid here in Columbia. And he was someone that I right away, when I got the job here, felt had a tremendous upside," Coach Lynn said. "He was someone I thought, over time, is going to help us out immensely as he continues to grow and get stronger in our training."
Coach Lynn is also looking forward to seeing how Madison, WI native Joe McKenna progresses at Mizzou. McKenna was 1600m State Champ, and took 2nd in both the 3200m and 4x800m in 2012. He was also 3200m runner-up in 2011. In Cross Country, McKenna was All-State in both 2010 and 2011, where he took 3rd.
"Joe's looked great, he's a really smart runner, seems to be really patient and methodical within his workouts," Coach Lynn said. "Seems a little ahead of the curve for a normal freshman as far as understanding a workout and how to approach it and actually execute it."
"What's really exciting about the group as a whole is how they've come together, and that they understand that they've created something special here," Coach Lynn said. "I really like their synergy, and that they have a common goal and a common focus. [They] know that they really have an awesome opportunity in the future to really come together and do something great. But at the same time, they're not afraid to mix it up right now and get in there with some of our upper classman and not take this freshmen year for granted, more or less."
Other freshman to note:
- Tyler Schneider (Schaumburg, IL):
- "Tyler made some incredible improvements over the course of his senior year. He is a great kid, has really shown early in some workouts here that he's capable of mixing it up. He's someone who won't settle for anything but success."
- Ian McGinn (Brighton, MI):
- "Just a great all around kid, not just a great athlete but a great student, and more importantly, a great person. Ian's going to be fun to watch the next 4 years."
- Brandon Williams (Denver, CO):
- "Brandon's like a year ahead of where'd you feel a freshman should be maturity-wise. Very calm and composed, and someone I feel that, a year or two down the road for sure, will have a tremendous upside in our program."
- Ethan Lambert (Eureka, MO):
- "He just seems like a competitor. Real laid back, but no nonsense. No matter what it is, whether it's a workout or when the gun goes off, just really seems to step up his game."
- Sam Cross (Springfield, MO)
- "Sam's a really hard worker who came from a high school program which traditionally sets their athletes up well for college. I'm looking forward to watching him develop these next 4 years "
- Shannon Hall (Kansas City, MO)
- "Shannon's a lot of fun to have on the team. He's a pretty quiet guy but when workouts come around he shows up and has been a very pleasant surprise so far."
- Tim Johnson (Palatine, IL)
- "Tim brings a lot to the table for this program. His high school program was not only one of the top in Illinois, but also in the country. That championship mentality and experience is something that will come in handy down the road."
- Hayden Merkel (Batesville, IN)
- "Hayden's one of the more athletic guys on the team. He high jumped in the mid 6 foot range in high school along with running a sub 4:20 mile. That's not a combination you see very often."
- Dan Roe (Arlington Heights, IL)
- "Dan had a breakout indoor and outdoor track season his senior year. It was a lot of fun watching he and Schneider really blossom and even work together in a lot of races. He has some pretty big things in front of him."
- Tom Rotondi (Mokena, IL)
- "Tom's a pretty quiet kid as well who is a great student. Really brings blue collar approach to the team, which I like. I really feel he has a tremendous upside that we'll start seeing very soon."
- Chris Spudic (Mt. Prospect, IL/Marquette University)
- "I like the experience Chris brings to the program. He was one of the top runners in Illinois coming out of high school and has shown he's capable of big things here the first few weeks of practice."
- Tyler Rusboldt (Chesterton, IN)
- "Tyler is another extremely athletic individual. He comes from a high school program that has produced numerous college level talent over the years and I'm confident he won't disappoint."
- Andrew Sweeney (Henrieta, NY)
- "Andrew is a big recruit for us. I feel he has the potential to do just about everything. Not only has he gone sub 1:53 for an 800, but also just missed going to Nike Cross Nats as an individual. Up till midway thru his junior year, Andrew even did the 400 hurdles."