Miner runners set to open in Bradley University.

A slip in the standings at last year's Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) championships has been a key focal point for Missouri S&T's men's cross country team as it gets prepared for the beginning of the 2013 season, while the women's team looks to follow the leadership of two upperclassmen to continue moving up the conference ladder.

The road to this year's GLVC Championships begins Friday, when the Miners compete in an evening meet at Bradley University. It will be the first of four regular season meets that will precede the Oct. 26 conference meet in St. Louis, a slate that will include the Jackling Jocks Invitational on Oct. 12 at the S&T Golf Course.

A year ago, the men's team dropped from fourth in the conference standings to eighth and returning to the top half of the GLVC has been the impetus for the squad during its preseason workouts according to head coach Sterling Martin.

"This group is very focused on putting in the work to improve each and every day," Martin said. "Falling to eighth place last year has motivated our guys to put in the work needed to compete in this conference."

The top returning runner for the Miners is junior Kyle Stocker (Solon, Iowa/Cedar Rapids Prairie), who did not run at the conference meet a year ago but had a finish among the top 10 at S&T's home meet.

Fellow junior Daniel Deposki is the top returning finisher from the conference meet – finishing 33rd overall – and is among three of the top five Miners from that meet back on the roster this fall. The other top competitors in that group are sophomore Justin Brown (Independence, Mo./Truman) and senior Jacob Tayloe (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Cedar Falls).

Missouri S&T has a solid veteran presence on the squad with the return of senior Chris Marchman (Sheridan, Ark./Sheridan), but a strong group of newcomers should make an impact on this year's team as well. That group includes Brad Chronister, a transfer from the United States Air Force Academy, and freshmen Daniel Goertzen (O'Fallon, Ill./O'Fallon), Brandon Moore (Riverside, Calif./Riverside Poly) and Tyler Percy (O'Fallon, Mo./Fort Zumwalt West).

"I couldn't be prouder of the effort given by every member of the team each and every practice," Martin said. "I believe we have the work ethic and attitude to run with the best teams in our conference and region."

The Lady Miner contingent is headed by junior Alyson Smith (Scott Air Force Base, Ill./Mascoutah), who placed 11th at last fall's GLVC Championships to become the second S&T runner in as many years to earn all-league honors and senior Diane Strong (Jackson, Mo./Jackson), who also figures to be among S&T's top runners during the 2013 season.

A talented group of five freshmen – Crystal Beffa (Festus, Mo./Festus), Katelyn Fricke (Brimfield, Ill./Brimfield), Megan Schulte (Columbia, Mo./Rock Bridge), Jordan Thompson (O'Fallon, Ill./O'Fallon) and Haylie Wiesner (Liberty, Mo./Liberty) – give Martin a squad that may be his deepest in his tenure as head coach. Those five will be joined by returners Dodee Pedersen, Madalyn Elliott (Chesterfield, Mo./Westminster Christian Academy), Brenda Ellis (Olathe, Kan./Olathe East) and Allie Wood (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley).

"I am very excited about this group of young ladies," Martin said. "We have tremendous leadership in Alyson and Diane, who have brought this group together as a team very quickly. I am expecting a very strong showing at the GLVC Championships this season."

2013 S&T cross country schedule:
Sept. 6: Bradley Open at Peoria, Ill.
Sept. 21...Southern Stampede at Joplin
Oct. 5...Chile Pepper Festival at Fayeteville, Ark.
Oct. 12...Jackling Jocks Invitational at Rolla
Oct. 26...GLVC Championships at St. Louis
Nov. 9...NCAA Division II Midwest Regional at Kenosha, Wis.
Nov. 23...NCAA Division II Championships at Spokane, Wash.