The Southeast men return a deep and experienced team under first-year coach Ryan Lane
The Southeast Missouri State cross country program will try to improve on last year's solid season with a new coach.
Ryan Lane has replaced Miles Krieger, who left Southeast after four seasons.
Lane, who ran for Southeast in 2002 and 2003 before an injury cut short his career, interned as a Southeast assistant in 2008 and 2009. He also has been an assistant for the Central High School cross country and track programs.
"I'm absolutely excited. It's a dream come true for me," said Lane, a graduate of Francis Howell North High School who earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Southeast.
Southeast's men finished third at the 2009 Ohio Valley Conference meet while the women were fourth. They were second and third, respectively, in 2008.
Both Southeast squads open the new season Saturday at the Washington University Early Bird meet.
"We're looking forward to getting started," said Lane, an accomplished marathon runner who was ninth in the 2008 St. Louis Marathon and 147th in the 2009 Boston Marathon. "We have high hopes."
While Eastern Kentucky, which swept both OVC titles for the fourth straight year last season, is heavily favored to repeat, Southeast is again expected to fare well in the 10-team league.
In preseason voting by the OVC's coaches, Southeast's men were ranked second and received the only first-place vote that didn't go to Eastern Kentucky. Southeast's women were ranked fourth.
"It's the deepest team that's been here in years," Lane said of his men's squad. "In my opinion we should easily finish in the top two if they run to their potential."
Lane said it will be hard to beat Eastern Kentucky.
"I think we can compete with them, at least scare them," Lane said.
Senior Jason Lumpkin returns to lead Southeast's men. He was eighth at last year's OVC meet to earn second-team all-conference honors. Lumpkin has the second-best time among returning runners from the 2009 OVC meet.
Sophomore Tyler Mullen was 17th at the 2009 OVC with the ninth-best time among returning runners.
Senior Chris Loseman had Southeast's top finish at last year's regional but finished just 22nd at the OVC due to an illness.
The Redhawks will be bolstered by two former second-team all-OVC runners who redshirted last year due to injury.
Senior Dustin Davis was 13th at the 2008 OVC, while sophomore Nathan Shipley was 12th as he earned the league's freshman of the year award.
"That's a good group to build around," Lane said.
Southeast returns three other runners who competed at last year's OVC meet: senior Cody Martin (23rd), sophomore Devon Dudding (45th) and sophomore Joel Krause (50th).
Also back are sophomore Alex Zisser and senior Paul Stemmerman, who redshirted last year.
Lane said freshmen Brent Collins and Patrick Yates are threatening to break into the lineup.
Two local products on the roster are sophomore Max Wieser from Saxony Lutheran High School, who competed in two meets last year, and freshman Tyson Stoverink from Jackson High School.
Lane said Wieser and Stoverink are "mainly conditioning to get ready for the 800 meters in track."
Rounding out the squad is freshman Cody Green.
"We're incredibly deep," Lane said. "That will make everybody better."
Lane said Southeast's women likely won't fare as well as the men but he still anticipates a strong showing.
"We've got a small roster. We're working on rebuilding that with our recruiting," he said. "But the girls I do have are high quality. We're looking for at least fourth [at the OVC], on a good day third."
Senior Monica Noble led Southeast's women last year with her second straight ninth-place OVC finish to earn a second consecutive second-team all-conference award. She has the sixth-best returning time from the OVC meet.
"We're looking for her to go top-five this year," Lane said.
Others who ran at last year's OVC meet are senior Kasey Owens (28th) and junior Elizabeth Speicher (29th).
"They had great summers," Lane said. "They should make a run for top 10 in the conference."
Sophomore Tiffany Mead from Central High School and sophomore Christy Hazel both competed in one meet last season.
"Tiffany has basically not run cross country since high school, just track," Lane said. "She's looking really, really strong."
Rounding out the roster are junior Sharayah Davis and freshmen Jazmine Davis, Madalyn Stichnot and Samantha Thierry.
"They're all fighting for spots," Lane said.