Aug. 28, 2003
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
Despite having only one senior and the remaining spots on the roster filled with freshmen and sophomores, University of Louisville head coach Gene Weis is particularly excited about the direction the program is headed as he prepares his squad for Friday's season-opening meet.
The Cardinals travel to Versailles, Ky., to compete against Eastern Kentucky and the University of Kentucky at the Woodford Trials. The 5K race begins at 5:30 p.m. at Woodford County Park.
"I'll be honest, I am very excited about the prospects for this year and maybe even more so about the future of this side of the program," said Weis, who is entering his seventh season at the helm. "We are still very young and not particularly deep, but we have all of our significant 'players' back from last year."
Three runners who Weis believes should contend for all-conference honors this fall are junior Curtis Persinger and sophomores Tim Kaiser and Kyle Bowling. Persinger, the Cards' MVP and top runner two years ago, returns after redshirting last year. Kaiser, who earned MVP honors last fall, led the team in five of six races during his rookie campaign and was among the best freshmen finishers at the NCAA Southeast Regionals. Bowling was the Cards' No. 3 finisher at both the Conference USA Championships and NCAA Southeast Regionals last year.
Freshmen Chris Danks and Wes Seacat are expected to contribute to the team immediately. Danks won three track state championships as a senior at St. Henry High School (Erlanger), while Seacat (New Albany High School) should challenge to be among the very best freshmen in the conference according to Weis.
Adding depth for the Cards will be senior Jamie Obermeyer, sophomore Paul Markus and redshirt freshmen Chris Davis, Todd Metzger and Vernon Stephen.
"We have to stay healthy because we are not very deep," said Weis. "If things fall together, then I expect to contend for a spot in the top four in Conference USA this year, and by 2004 we'll be a title contender. That's significant considering where we've come from the past several years and is a credit to the type of kids we are getting."
The program will also add the coaching services of Houston Barber, who will assist both the cross country and track teams. Barber, a four-time all-conference runner at Marquette, was an assistant with the women's squad two years ago.
"Houston's addition is significant," said Weis. "He is a former C-USA standout and is recognized and accepted as a top young coaching talent. He's very well organized and has a great rapport with the kids. He brings a great deal to the table and it goes without saying that we're delighted to have him."
The Cardinals will again compete in two meets in Louisville this season. On September 27, the Greater Louisville Sports Commission will host the Greater Louisville Challenge at E.P. Tom Sawyer Park. The following week, U of L will host the Cardinal Classic at the Shelby Campus on Shelbyville Road.
The Conference USA Championships will be held Nov. 1 in Tampa, Fla., followed by the NCAA Southeast Regionals in Greenville, N.C. The Cardinals will also make trips to Vanderbilt and Evansville this year.