Fall sports preview

Experienced runners set sights on nationals

The men’s and women’s cross country teams each return a wealth of talent. The women return all five of their top runners from last year, and the men saw just one of its top performers graduate last spring.

The women’s team finished second at last year’s University Athletic Association (UAA) championships, but junior Taryn Surtees finished first overall, becoming the seventh student-athlete in school history to accomplish the feat. The women placed third at the NCAA Midwest Regional meet and 12th at the NCAA championships.

In addition to Surtees, senior Molly Schlamb, senior Hope Rathnam, sophomore Liz Phillips and sophomore Erica Jackey each earned points at the NCAA championship meet, and all return this season.

Last season was a vital year of experience for a young men’s cross country team, and this season, the Bears intend to make their mark on the national stage. Junior Dave Spandorfer leads a group of four returning runners that earned points at last year’s NCAA regional championship. Senior Alex Bearden, senior Matt Kruger and sophomore Tucker Hartley also return for 2009.

Both seasons open at 9 a.m. Sept. 5 with the Big River Running Early Bird Meet in Forest Park.

Football team hungry for league title

The Bears return 17 starters from last season — seven on offense, eight on defense, and two on special teams — to a team hungry for its first University Athletic Association (UAA) title since 2004.

Seniors Matt Glenn and Greg Lachaud and junior Jim O’Brien return in the backfield. Glenn, a second-team all-league honoree, and O’Brien will be the top two threats to carry the ball.

Coach Larry Kindbom has seven wide receivers who saw extensive playing time last season, led by junior Tom Gulyas and senior Matt Mangini. Gulyas, a first-team all-UAA performer, led the team with 51 catches for 632 yards and three touchdowns.

Sophomore first-team all-UAA performer Joe Rhein and classmate Phill Stoecker started all 10 games in their rookie campaign on the offensive line, while junior David Mackey made nine starts up front to earn honorable-mention all-UAA honors.

Senior Nick Gialessas, an honorable-mention all-UAA selection last year, leads a group of five who will be on the defensive line. Seniors Tim Taylor and juniors Greg Larson and John Schneider have all started and will be in the rotation.

Senior co-captain Andrew Berryman is back with five other linebackers who saw significant time last year. Berryman, a first-team all-UAA performer, led the team in tackles for loss (8.5) and sacks (2.5). Senior Brett Schiffman picked up a second-team all-league honors a year ago, while junior Kyle Huber earned honorable-mention accolades.

Developing depth in the secondary will be a key for the Bears, as Kindbom will look to seniors Tim Machan and Tim Olivos to be the core of the defense.

The season opens at 7 p.m. Sept. 5 at Francis Field when the Bears host Greenville College.

Women’s soccer looks to build on success

Second-year head coach Jim Conlon returns 18 letterwinners and five starters from last year’s team, which posted a 15-4 overall mark and advanced to the NCAA sectional semifinal. The Bears also won their third-straight University Athletic Association (UAA) title and fifth in the past six years.

Senior Libby Held, a first-team All-America and all-UAA honoree in 2008, started 20 games for the Bears in the center backfield. She was part of the Bears’ defense that allowed just 19 goals all season, posting eight shutouts.

Also returning is senior forward Caryn Rosoff, a first-team all-central region and all-UAA selection. Rosoff led the team with nine goals and 22 points. Joining her up front is sophomore Lee Ann Felder, an honorable-mention all-UAA honoree who scored six goals in her rookie year.

Senior Becca Heymann, a member of the all-region second-team and the all-UAA first team, played in all 21 games at midfield. Heymann’s seven assists led the team and combined with a pair of goals gave her 11 points for the year. Senior midfielder Elyse Hanly started 17 games in the midfield, while senior forward Carter Schwarberg picked up honorable-mention all-UAA after appearing in all 21 games.

The women’s season opens at home 5:30 p.m. Sept. 1, hosting Illinois Wesleyan at Francis Field.

Lots of optimism for men’s soccer squad

The men’s soccer team enters the 2009 season with a great deal of optimism as the squad returns a number of key components that resulted in a 12-5-1 record a year ago.

Head coach Joe Clarke brings back four of his top five goal scorers from last season in addition to honorable mention All-University Athletic Association (UAA) goalkeeper John Smelcer.

Senior John Hengel, junior Harry Beddo and sophomore Patrick McClean will pace the offense. Hengel enjoyed his best season with eight goals, four assists and six game-winning goals in 2008, earning honorable mention all-UAA honors. McLean was the Bears’ second leading scorer with four goals and an assist, while Beddo notched four goals during his sophomore campaign.

With Smelcer tending the nets for one final season, WUSTL will feature one of the top goalkeepers in NCAA Division III. It also returns two touted defensive specialists. Junior Alex Neumann and Randall Schoen both started in the backfield for all 18 games last season, as the team gave up just 12 goals through its first 15 games.

The men’s team opens its season at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 1 when it hosts Illinois Wesleyan University at Francis Field.

Volleyball expects run at national title

Last season marked the first time since 1999 that the volleyball team failed to advance to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals. Heading into 2009, the Bears expect to improve on last year’s regional finals appearance and make a run at a 10th national championship.

WUSTL returns three starters, the libero and 10 letter winners overall to a team that posted a 32-7 record in 2008 and captured the University Athletic Association (UAA) championship with a 3-2 win over eventual national champion Emory University.

While the team graduated four key contributors, the Bears return two 2008 All-Americans. Senior middle hitter Erin Albers was a third-team All-America honoree last year. Sophomore Erin Kasson earned honorable mention All-America recognition in her freshman season as a middle blocker.

Laura Brazeal, who earned honorable mention all-UAA honors, is the team’s libero. Sophomore Tricia Brandt is back as defensive specialist.

The volleyball team begins its season at 6 p.m. Sept. 1 in the WU Field House when it hosts Harris-Stowe State University and Greenville College for a dual match doubleheader.