2004 Women's Cross Country Outlook
Sept. 7, 2004
The 2004 University of Memphis women's cross country team will be made up of nine runners, all of which are returnees from the 2003-04 squad. Most would say this would give U of M an advantage in terms of experience. However, given the fact that six of the ladies are only sophomores, the terms potential, promise, and continuing to build are likely more suitable.
Coach Jonas Holdeman and his group of runners' main goal is to improve every day and to continue to develop into a top program in Conference USA.
"Our program is still in somewhat of a developmental mode," Holdeman said. "We have a great group of girls with a lot of promise, but it takes time to develop to full potential."
Time is something that much of the squad does have considering that the team is made up of only one senior and two juniors to go along with the six sophomores.
The race to decide which of these nine runners will make up the top seven at the end of the season will be wide open and extremely competitive. Senior Nora Nemere and sophomores Mary Claire Dake, Becca McMahon and Daniele Riendeau are expected to be four of those seven. However, no spots are set in stone at this point in time.
"All of our girls are commited to being excellent," Holdeman said. "They work hard in everything they do. I can't ask for anything more than that, and if we keep it up, our time will come."
Though it is not terribly likely that the Lady Tigers will find themselves at the top of Conference USA this year, or maybe even next year, they should be much improved over the past few seasons.
"We will be way better than last year, but I'm still not sure that will be good enough." Holdeman said. "With a couple more additions, by the time our six sophomores are juniors, and especially when they are seniors, we should be competing at a top level."
This said, the Lady Tigers are not satisfied simply to improve and become competitive in a year or two. There is an extremely strong desire to exceed expectations and surpass even their own goals.
"Realistically, we are probably a year or two away from getting where we want to be, but the way our girls work, you never know what can happen."
Nora Nemere from Budapest, Hungary is the lone senior and will be a leader both on and off the course. "Nora is a really hard worker who is very durable and has great stamina, but her best asset is probably that she simply loves to run," Holdeman said.
Juniors Karin Brooks, from Bartlett, Tenn., and Heather Woolls, Ripley, Tenn., are both local runners who walked on to the team in 2002 and should contend for spots in the top seven this year. "Both of these girls do anything I ask of them," Holdeman said. "Karin wants to run as fast as she can, but her ultimate goal is to become a coach. Heather continues to improve. She will run faster this year than she ever thought possible."
A talented group of six sophomores makes up the bulk of the 2004 team, and will definitely have a major impact in how the team finishes this season. Mary Claire Dake, from Knoxville, Tenn., was probably the team's top runner at the end of last season, and hopes to improve on that in 2004. Sarah Janecek, from Wahoo, Neb., walked-on to the team last spring and will be competing in cross country for the first time collegiately this fall, but should have a major impact especially at longer distances. Becca McMahon from Londonderry, N.H., and Daniele Riendeau from Ottawa, Ontario both have outstanding pure speed and should be major factors, specifically in races at shorter distances. Kimberly McVeigh and Brittany Pieraccini, both from Memphis, have made impressive improvements over the past year and are looking to make their way into the top seven. "This sophomore class is an extraordinary group of runners," Holdeman said. "They all have tremendous potential and by their junior and senior years, we should be on our way to becoming a top notch program."
Coach Jonas Holdeman is in his third year as the Women's Head Cross Country coach and assistant Track coach in charge of the Memphis distance program.
Holdeman brings over 10 years of youth, collegiate, and post-collegiate coaching experience to the Lady Tiger Cross Country and Track programs. In addition to serving as an Olympic Development Program (ODP) coach in Knoxville, Tenn., in the early 1990s, he has coached numerous successful post-collegiate distance runners and triathletes. He spent the two years prior to his arrival in Memphis as the Head Track & Field and Cross Country coach of the men's and women's sports club programs at the University of North Carolina.
A member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and U.S. Women's Track & Field Coaches Association (USWTCA), Holdeman is a USA Track & Field (USATF) Level III certified coach in the Endurance events. He also holds the Level II certification in Sprints and Hurdles. He actively trains and competes; and, in addition to a Top 100 finish in the 2000 Boston Marathon, Holdeman won the 2002 inaugural St. Jude Memphis Marathon in a time of 2:34:47.
Holdeman began the rebuilding process of the Memphis women's distance program with a recruiting class in 2003 that brought in eight new freshmen signees. Coming from all over America and Canada, Holdeman has assembled a group of athletes to build a solid foundation for the future.
The Lady Tiger Cross Country squad will open the 2004 season Saturday, Sept. 11, with the Memphis Twilight Classic, held at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Collierville, Tenn.
They will then run in the UALR Open Sept. 25, in Little Rock, Ark., and the Saluki Invitaional Oct. 9, in Carbondale, Ill., before Conference USA and NCAA Regional Championships.
C-USA Championships will be Oct. 30, in Chicago, Ill., with the NCAA South Regional Championships two weekends later on Nov. 13, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.