Friday, September 26, 2008

Rudert fights through injuries to become No. 1 for women's cross

Issue date: 9/26/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

Last Friday, Amanda Rudert won her first collegiate race, placing first in the George Dales Invitational, helping the women's cross country team to its first team win of the season.

The victory was yet another milestone in the senior's successful running career, a career that began because of a fall.

Rudert, a Mount Pleasant senior, had spent much of her sophomore and junior years battling injuries before a physical therapist assisted in rehabilitating her back to full strength for her senior year.

As she ran in regionals in fall 2004 with a trip to the state finals in her sight, Rudert's comeback was nearly complete.

That is, until she fell.

"I just remember waking up with my mom and my teammates standing there clapping," Rudert said. "I didn't really know what happened."

Rudert unexpectedly passed out during the race and was rushed to the hospital, where test after test was performed.

After bouts with numerous respiratory infections and bronchitis during the remainder of her senior year, Rudert was recommended to see a specialist. She had asthma.

"The doctor helped me out a lot, and since visiting him, the asthma's been under control," Rudert said. "I was able to run a lot more miles and train more consistently because I was healthy."

Now, nearly four years later, Rudert is excelling on the collegiate scene, surpassing not only other runners but her high school performance as well.

"I wasn't really good in high school," Rudert said, laughing.

Head coach Karen Lutzke believes that is a driving force in Rudert's performance.

"Amanda's high school career didn't end anywhere near the way she wanted it to," Lutzke said. "Because of her health issues, she was a slow starter.

" But instead of excelling in high school, she's excelling in college."

As a biomedical sciences major planning to attend medical school after graduation, Rudert is as much high-paced off the course as she is on it. She juggles a 3.85 grade-point average, volunteer work and church.

Coupled with her persistence, Rudert believes her faith helped her hurdle the obstacles she faced.

"I owe so much of my success to my supportive family, teammates and coaches, but most importantly to God," she said. "If you expect to succeed and are committed and are willing to stand up to the struggles and hard times, it's going to pay off and reward you eventually. You just have to give it time."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Women win first season invitational

Issue date: 9/22/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

The women's cross country team followed up two subpar performances in non-scoring meets with its best race of the year Friday at the George Dales Invitational.

Senior Amanda Rudert won her first collegiate race with a time of 18 minutes, 31 seconds, and all scoring Central runners finished in the top 10. The Chippewas beat Western and Eastern Michigan by 16 and 31 points, respectively, in Three Rivers.

"We had our best performance of the year so far," Lutzke said. "I was really pleased with the effort we got across the board and not just from our top few runners, from our first to last runners."

After a disappointing meet at the Spartan Invitational last week, in which its top runner placed 20th overall, the team accomplished both goals of running as a pack and closing the gap between its top five runners.

Lutzke said the team raced together for just about half the race and the gap closed from 49 seconds in the previous week to 41 seconds on Friday.

Rounding out the scoring positions were sophomores Raeanna Lohner (fourth place, 18:35) and Brittany Dixon (fifth, 18:38), junior Sarah Squires (eighth, 18:49) and senior Kelly McClure (10th, 18:54).

The pace-setting Rudert accomplished her goals after last week's practices.

"I personally needed to practice going out faster from the start, and this race provided a great opportunity for that," Rudert said.

Lutzke echoed those thoughts.

"She pretty much controlled the race from the gun," she said. "She led the pack and made a move around the two-mile mark and executed our plan perfectly. Amanda's really strong over the last mile."

Lutzke also believed Rudert's confidence was the biggest difference in her performance.

"We took the race out from the start and did a great job working together and pushing each other," Rudert said. "It was a big improvement from last week and I'm very happy with how we raced."

Lutzke said Lohner and Dixon competed well with the front-running pack and called Squires' race a breakthrough. She acknowledged the difficulty that comes with the transition from track to cross country, where the race is longer than the 1,500-meter event in track.

"She's been doing really well on the track and it was a big race for her and the team," Lutzke said.

The team gets a weekend off before traveling Oct. 3 to the Adidas Notre Dame Invite in Notre Dame, Ind.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Poor performance motivates women

Issue date: 9/19/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

The goal for the women's cross country team is simple after a poor performance last Friday at the Spartan Invitational, - improve.

The team runs today in Western Michigan's Bronco Invitational at Three Rivers to compete in its first scored meet of the year against fellow intrastate rivals Western and Eastern Michigan.

"We've had a real good week of practice," said coach Karen Lutzke. "Our workouts this week have been geared towards what we need to do as a team to get better, and that's learning how to run together and push each other."

Senior Amanda Rudert believes that today, the team will put last week's subpar effort in the past.

"We weren't very happy with how we raced last weekend," Rudert said. "We're very excited to make a comeback this weekend and turn in some good times on a fast course."

Last Friday, Rudert paced CMU with a time of 22 minutes, 38 seconds in the 6K. However, the team disappointingly increased the gap among its top five runners.

"There were a few things that we weren't doing the best that we could - specifically pack running - and having our gap between one and five getting smaller," Rudert said.

After a team meeting Monday during practice this week designed to re-evaluate where they stand early in the season, CMU concentrated on running more as a team. The method not only pushes themselves, but their competition.

Rudert also echoed Lutzke's thoughts on challenging herself more in races.

"Sometimes I get afraid of going out too quickly with the lead pack and that's something I'm working on," she said.

Rudert said that during practice this week, she was working on starting quicker and establishing herself with the lead pack. Lutzke expects the entire team to bounce back today in the 5K meet.

"I expect everybody to do well and to run together and push each other," she said. "We want to do our best each time we're out there and nobody's perfect. But I really think we're refreshed and ready to go on Friday."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Homecoming ceremony to honor past athletes

Issue date: 9/12/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Writer

In honor of Finch Fieldhouse and Rose Arena making way to the newly renovated CMU Events Center in the near future, 70 former athletes – 35 each from both venues – have been chosen to the All-Finch Fieldhouse and All-Rose Arena teams as the most accomplished student-athletes of those buildings.

These teams will be highlighted before and during halftime of the October 11 homecoming football game against Temple, the ceremonies designed to not only honor the former athletes but to kick off the capital fundraising campaign for the CMU Events Center.

Fans were encouraged to vote online at the Chippewas official athletic site during the month of July to elect individuals to the historic teams.

Mike Burns, Don Edwards, Ben Kelso, Dick Parfitt and Steve Pung were the leading vote-getters for the All-Finch team while Casey Cunningham, Chris Kaman, Dan Majerle, Ben Poquette and Dan Roundfield were the top five tallies on the on the All-Rose team.

According to Sports Information Director Don Helinski, 310 ballots were submitted online. Helinski noted that the department is not releasing the amount of votes the top five athletes received.

“We were looking for ways to really celebrate the great athletic accomplishments that have happened in Finch and Rose as we move towards a new, single event center that will house all of our sports teams,” Athletic Director Dave Heeke said.

The festivities will begin on homecoming Saturday with an invitation-only CMU Events Center Prelude prior to the football game.

“It’s going to be a big tailgate event,” stated Heeke.

During halftime, the players will be honored with an on-the-field ceremony in front of the Chippewa faithful.

Although all former players and their families were invited to participate in the weekend of homecoming activities, there is no word on the number that will attend.

Associate Athletic Director Jay Lanctot believes that while the fundraising is helpful, the ceremony will be a celebration of Central athletics.

“We want to emphasize just how proud we are of our past in terms of our athletes and their achievements and what they have done for our athletics,” Lanctot said.

The event will attempt to bring the past and present together, celebrating past achievements while looking at the current state of CMU athletics with an eye to the future, the CMU Events Center, embodying the campaign’s slogan:

“A proud past, a promising future.”

MAC, Big Ten rivals await at Spartan Invite

Unscored meet gives CMU chance to see conference foes

Issue date: 9/5/08

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

Today, for the second time in two meets, the women's cross country team tests its mettle against nationally-ranked competition from last year as it travels to East Lansing to race in the 6K Spartan Invitational.

Teams competing in the meet include host Michigan State - which finished last season ranked fifth in the country - fellow MAC rivals Western Michigan and Miami, and Division II Grand Valley State.

By traveling south, CMU returns the favor to Michigan State, which traveled north two weeks ago for the Jeff Drenth Memorial. In the 5K race, six Central runners placed in the top 15, with senior Amanda Rudert turning in the fastest time in 18 minutes, 53 seconds.

While Rudert's performance was stellar in the opener, coach Karen Lutzke says she is more focused on the runners behind the pace-setter.

"We're looking to close the gap between our top five runners and trying to cut the spread down to 15-20 seconds and not 30-40 seconds," Lutzke said. "But that doesn't mean we want Amanda to run any slower. We want Amanda to run faster and everybody else to run faster so they're closer to where Amanda is right now."

The race will be held at the Forest Akers East Golf Course on the campus of MSU - called a "fast track" by Lutzke - at 1:35 p.m. The unscored meet is CMU's first 6K of the season.

Senior Michelle Diverio doesn't think CMU should have any problems.

"We train for long distances. Most of us run over 40 miles a week, so I don't think it's physically that much of an adjustment for us to do the 6K as opposed to the 5K," Diverio said. "But mentally, it takes more focus because you're out on the course racing for a longer time."

The meet, while unscored, will give CMU the opportunity to measure up against its MAC opponents while gaining valuable race experience. Both the regional and pre-national meets are 6K races.

Several undisclosed runners will sit out today to rest for next week's first scored meet in Kalamazoo against Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Rudert leads women's cross

Issue date: 9/5/08

The women's cross country team opened its 2008 campaign last Friday with the unscored Jeff Drenth Memorial at University Park against Michigan State.

Senior Amanda Rudert led CMU with a sixth-place finish in 18 minutes, 53 seconds in the 5K race. Five other Central runners placed in the Top 15: junior Kelly McClure, sophomores Danielle Dakroub, Raeanne Lohner Kylee Kubacki and senior Michelle Diverio.

"It went well," coach Karen Lutzke said of the season opener. "It could have gone better, but it definitely could have gone worse. We had some good performances and we have people that need to step it up."

Friday's race also was the season opener for the Spartans, a team that finished last season ranked No. 5 in the nation.

"Michigan State a really good team that has a lot of national-caliber athletes," Lutzke said. "We have a lot of good athletes too, and I was pleased overall with how we did."

One of the bright spots on a day that was very bright, very sunny, and very hot was the return of Diverio from injury.

"She's been banged up a little bit, so I'm really impressed with how she came back and moved herself up in the race," Lutzke said.

Diverio finished 15th with a time of 19:40.

Lutzke said some things could have gone better, however.

"Closing the gap between our top five runners," Lutzke said. "You want your front runner up as high as they can be and you want No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 really close to them because five people score."

Rudert finished sixth, followed by McClure, Dakroub, Lohner and Kubacki placing 10th through 13th, respectively.

Central travels to East Lansing for an unscored meet in the Spartan Invitational on Sept.12, then takes on Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan in Kalamazoo on Sept. 19 for the first scored meet of the season.

Compiled by staff reporter Anthony Fenech.