The Southern Oregon cross country team looks to jump start its season on Saturday, when the Raiders will open up at the University of Washington's Sundodger Invitational in Seattle.

The Southern Oregon cross country team looks to jump start its season on Saturday, when the Raiders will open up at the University of Washington's Sundodger Invitational in Seattle.

The women's 600-meter open race begins at 9 a.m., followed by the men's 800-meter event at 9:40 a.m.

The meet marks the SOU coaching debut of Brent Ericksen, who was selected in August to guide the Raiders. Ericksen spent last season as the Associate Head Cross Country Coach and Track and Field Coach at NCAA Division I Texas A&M Corpus Christi after being named NCAA Division III National, Regional and Conference Coach of the Year at Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2006-07.

Ericksen will bring a full men's team to Seattle, but an already shorthanded women's squad will be without their top runner, senior Katelyn Alley, who is scheduled to take the Law School Admission Test this weekend.

The men, who claimed the third spot in the Cascade Conference Preseason Coaches poll, are led by seniors Cameron Kreuz and Anthony Monteleone, and sophomore David Laney.

The team finished second at the Cascade Conference Championship meet last fall and all three runners finished in the top-25, including fifth- and ninth-place efforts by Kreuz and Laney. Kreuz went on to qualify for the NAIA championships with a 25:40 effort in the 8k at the Region I meet.

"Those guys are running really well right now," Ericksen said of the trio. "But we've got a nice group behind them as well, and it will be interesting to see if we can stay together as a pack."

Ericksen noted that whoever steps up to the fourth and fifth positions will determine what kind of season the Raiders will have as a team.

Alley led the women with a time of 20:26 and placed 19th at last year's conference championships, and then dropped her time to 19:44 at the Region I meet, claiming the 31st spot.

The women were picked ninth in the conference preseason poll, in part because they are only fielding a partial team.

Senior Whitney Riehl will join the squad after four years as a defensive specialist on the Raider volleyball team and Saturday will be her first time ever participating in a cross country meet.

"She's been a lot of fun, and she's such a hard worker which is what even allows her to make the transition," Ericksen said. "It will be quite an adventure after playing volleyball her whole life, all the sudden stepping in to run at UW."

Ericksen said the team is already looking forward to Oct. 4, when they will travel to Salem for the Charles Bowles invitational where they will get a better look at competition from around the conference.

"At this point, we just want to get an idea of where we're at,'

he said. "It will be a good experience to see who steps up and what we can do."

Chelstrom named to cross country/track and field staff

Southern Oregon University cross country and track and field coach Brent Ericksen has named Dan Chelstrom to the position of associate head coach of cross country and track and field.

Chelstrom arrives at SOU after serving as head men's and women's cross country coach and director of strength and cardiovascular centers at Brescia University in Kentucky.

"I'm elated to join the Raider athletics family," Chelstrom said.

"This is a great opportunity to contribute to a storied and comprehensive cross country and track and field program. The academic opportunities at SOU, athletic facilities, and training venues within Ashland are second to none. I believe Southern Oregon University offers the ideal environment to facilitate the growth and development of both cross country and track & field student-athletes."

While at Brescia, Chelstrom mentored the 2007 KIAC Women's Cross Country Freshman of the Year, All-Conference and Academic All-Conference student-athletes. Additionally, he notched the largest NAIA recruiting class of 2008, securing 26 commitments to BU.

Prior to serving at Brescia, Dan won three NCAA III National Track and Field titles at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, the third of which while serving as an assistant to Ericksen.

"It's exciting to be reunited with Coach Ericksen," Chelstrom said. "His track record as an Olympic Coach and NCAA Coach of The Year speaks for itself. We work well together and compliment each other nicely stylistically and philosophically. It's a privilege to work together with coach once again; we look forward to bringing success similar to what we had at UW-L to Southern Oregon."

Chelstrom competed collegiately for Bethel University in Minnesota, where he was a four year letterman and top competitor in events ranging from 3,000-10,000 meters as a senior. He also competed for the Marathon Sports Race Team as a post-collegiate. Following graduation, he was named the assistant cross country and track and field coach at his alma mater.

During his time at Bethel, multiple school records were established in the middle and long distance events.Chelstrom earned his bachelor's in communication arts and literature education from Bethel University and completed his master's studies in exercise and sport science-human performance at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.