Published on September 17th, 2012 | by Kevin Ryan0
Flyers going for it all
Kevin Ryan, Sports Editor
Pictured above: Junior Sean Smith runs in his first race as a member of the Flyers at the Illini Challenge.
Coming into the 2012-2013 season, the Lewis University men’s cross-country team is setting their expectations high.
With junior Andrew McLain returning healthy from a nagging hip injury last year and senior Scott Tanis coming back for his fifth year, assistant coach Rick Hammer believes the Flyers could compete at a national level this year.
“We spent a lot of time bringing in the right people, and we’ve certainly taken our lumps over the past couple of years, Hammer said. “We finally got everybody healthy; everybody has taken advantages of some redshirt years to gain an extra year of experience, and this is the year were going to go for it.”
Rounding off the top three runners alongside McLain and Tanis is transfer student Sean Smith. Smith, who transferred from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, was a NAIA All-American in the outdoor 5,000-meter run and also won the CCAC Cross Country Championship in 2010.
Hammer is extremely excited to have Smith on his squad.
“We’re lucky to have him and happy to have him. Sean’s a super talent,” Hammer said. “We’ve raced against him for the last two years with him formally representing St. Francis. I think it says a lot about the character of our team that he chose us because he had a lot of options being an All-American coming out of University of St. Francis.”
The Flyers’ first race of the year took place Aug. 31 at the 6K Illini Challenge in Urbana-Champaign.
As Lewis went up against Division I opponents, this did not faze them as their entire team finished in the top 25 and took third place.
Smith finished third overall at 18:45, while McLain completed the race at 19:04 in 12th place. Other Flyers who finished under the 20 minute mark were Scott Tanis 19:19 (15th place), senior Thomas Campbell 19:42 (22nd place) and sophomore Andrew Knapik 19:04 (24th place).
Hammer was very pleased with his runners’ first race of the season.
“The first meet of the year is sort of a tune-up meet that we kind of used as a practice,” Hammer said.
“We only ran slightly over half the roster, and the guys that were out there did really well. We beat two Division I teams in Butler and Illinois, and we gave Loyola Chicago all they could handle.”
Hammer continued, “I think that’s a great showing for where we are this year. I think we went out there and mixed it up with everyone that was there and showed we are one of the best teams in the state of Illinois.”
Lewis will continue their season Sept. 29 when they travel to Louisville for the Greater Louisville Classic.
Photo provided by Mary McLain.