Although an extremely young squad, the 2009 Greenville College men's cross country team returned four of the top five runners from the previous year. With only two seniors amongst their top 10 runners, the men showed experience with marked improvement from their 2008 campaign. After an encouraging regular season, the team fell just four points shy of capturing their 12th Conference Championship in the last 14 years. The GC Harriers rebounded two weeks later with six of the seven runners posting personal bests to garner a 17th place team finish (out of the 45 schools represented at the NCAA DIII Midwest Regional Championships in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
The team was led by returning MVR, senior Rodney Oyler (Macon, IL / Meridian). As an 800m specialist on the track, Oyler proved his versatility by consistently providing the Panthers with a low number in the team points. His final cross country season was highlighted by finishing 2nd at the SLIAC Championship and coming back to run a personal best time of 26:04 at the Midwest Regional, good enough for 71st place overall.
Junior Cole Prins (Erie, IL / Erie) also had an outstanding year posting a third place finish at the SLIAC championships and running a 40 second personal best at the Midwest Regional finishing in a time of 26:30. However, the breakthrough performance of the season was shared by high school teammates Leo Pathy (Palos Hills, IL / AA Stagg) and Xavier Ortiz (Palos Hills, IL / AA Stagg), who went 26:44 and 26:45, respectively, as Greenville's #3 and #4 finishers at the Regional Championships. The sophomores continued to show improvement running stride for stride over most of the 8,000 meters with both running their collegiate PR's.
While the disappointment of a second place conference finish was evident in the young Panthers, it has served to strengthen their resolve and drive the team forward as they look to 2010. Prins, Ortiz, and Pathy will be joined by early season standout Coree Woltering (sophomore - Ottawa, IL / Ottawa) who opened with a 26:26 at the first meet of the year but was sidelined mid-season with a stress fracture yet still managed to push himself to SLIAC All-Conference Honors. Also entering the mix will be junior John Spencer (Broken Arrow, OK / Holland Hall), freshman Ross Baker (St. Joseph, IL / Ogden-St. Joe), and redshirt freshman Barry Parks (Eldorado, IL / Eldorado).