Track begins joint season full of potential

Butler’s men’s and women’s track teams competed together for the first time this season at the Gladstein Invitational Meet at Indiana University last weekend.

Senior Kris Gauson captured the men’s 800-meter invitational first-place finish (1:52.56) on Saturday among eight other runners.

That same day, sophomore Craig Jordan won the men’s 800-meter run (1:55.09), to be the third Bulldog to win an event at the Invitational.

Senior Justin Roeder was the first Bulldog to clinch a top spot when he won the men’s 3000-meter (8:15.54) the previous night.

Head coach Matt Roe was not surprised by his team’s performance, even if it was the first meet.

“We always expect athletes to come out and compete to the best of their ability,” Roe said.

Freshman Matt Schumacker, who ran the 400-meter race Friday, said that their goal is to win the Horizon League and nothing less.

With a combination of young talent and senior leadership, the team feels this goal is within reach.

Gauson, who will be a large part of making it happen, has enjoyed a successful career so far. He is the Butler record holder in the indoor and outdoor 800-meter and the outdoor 1500-meter, and he qualified to run the 1500-meter in the NCAA Championships last year.

Schumacker and freshman Mick Wang are a part of the young talent the Butler men’s team has built up. Of the 26 members on this year’s men’s team, 17 are underclassmen, giving the Bulldogs a large pool of talent to develop.

Freshman Ross Clarke was named 2010’s Conference Newcomer of the Year during the cross country season and was the only freshman to make the All-Region Team.

The women’s team seems to be developing similarly, thanks to strong fall performances from underclassmen.

Sophomores Kirsty Legg and Katie Clark said the team’s strength is the middle distance events.

Roe said Legg and Clark are both capable of breaking the Butler indoor 3000-meter record this weekend, or at any other time this season. In fact, Legg was recently named the Horizon League Runner of the Week

Roe and his assistants devised a unique work out program for the athletes during winter break.

The five-week workout programs were specific to each athlete’s preferred events and any injuries they have been dealing with, preparing them for the spring campaign.

Next weekend, the men’s and women’s teams both travel to South Bend, Ind., for the Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame.

Schumacker said this is one of the biggest meets of the season.

“The Meyo Invite has some of the best competition we’ll see this season,” he said. “If you qualify, it’s a huge deal.”

With the entire track season in front of them, Butler’s runners have high expectations and could potentially meet those with plenty of veteran leadership and young talent.