Friday, July 24, 2015

New UIS cross country coach Mike De Witt building everything from the ground up

Runners leaving the starting line will race along the YMCA soccer fields, between rows of corn, past an old red barn and the former home of university presidents near Lake Springfield. Then it’s back through the corn and by the soccer fields to the finish line.

That is the route competitors in the University of Illinois Springfield’s inaugural cross country race will traverse on the northeast corner of campus Sept. 11. The UIS First Meet will feature the Prairie Stars' new men’s and women’s cross country teams.

“This is Phase One,” UIS cross country coach Mike De Witt said. “That is a 2K loop. The 2K will be the core of the course. Our first meet the women will run a 4K and the men will run a 6K. The more people run on it the easier it will be to maintain.”

The course designed by De Witt will soon get a workout after the runners report to the first day of practice Aug. 17. De Witt is an expert in cross country course design. The 64-year-old native of Kenosha, Wisconsin, is entering his 41st year of coaching, including 36 years at the college level.

Since he was hired in February, De Witt has been building the Stars’ course and roster.

“We had an interest meeting on campus,” he said. “I was anticipating maybe a dozen kids would show up. We had two dozen show up at the meeting and another half dozen checked in.”

De Witt was featured by The State Journal-Register on July 23, 2015.

Read the article online.