Viking men finish among top 10 for fourth consecutive year
Brill, Breihof, Brisky and Hartnett honored for third time
College: Redshirt during 2007 cross country season and 2009 track season...personal bests of 2:06.63 in 800, 4:07.08 in 1500, 9:24.61 in steeplechase, 15:14.88 in 5K, 25:34.4 in cross country 8K, and 31:52 in cross country 10K...four-time USTFCCCA All-Academic selection, three in cross country and one in track...GNAC all-academic three times in cross country and twice in track ... Team captain in cross country in 2011.
High School: Graduate of Kentwood High School...competed in state cross country in 2005 and 2006, placing 21st in 4A race as a senior...competed in state track in 2007, finishing 9th in 3200...personal bests of 4:27.90 in 1600, 9:26.44 in 3200, and 15:42 in cross country 5000...also competed in state diving, placing 15th as a senior in 1-meter springboard...earned three letters in track, three in cross country, and three in diving.
By T.J. Cotterill, Sports Editor, The Western Front
Eric Brill knows about pressure.
The Western men's cross-country team has placed in the top 10 in the NCAA Division II National Championship each of the last two seasons.
All-Americans Jordan Welling, Bennett Grimes and Blake Medhaug were the center of attention on those teams, despite solid finishes from Brill each year. Now that they have finished their four years with the program, that won't be the case any longer.
"There is a bit of uncertainty this season after losing those three athletes," Brill said. "But I just want to make sure everybody knows we are going to continue right where those guys left off."
A team captain this year, Brill has led his team all summer in workouts to prepare them for another run at a top-10 national finish.
In 2009, Brill recorded the third-best time on the team at the national meet. He placed 52nd individually - 12 places away from earning All-American status. Grimes placed 56th that same race and Medhaug was 61st.
An Achilles tendon injury hampered Brill for the majority of the 2010 season, however, and prevented him from running at full strength. He still competed in the championship but placed 80th. Grimes placed 13th in the race and Medhaug was 66th.
Brill said he normally ran 50 to 60 miles a week with the foot injury. Now he says he is ready to go 100 percent on it and is up to running 100 miles a week.
"I guarantee I will be finishing better at nationals this year than I did last season," he said. "I'm in much better shape now."
While Brill is optimistic that he'll become an All-American like the seniors before him, he knows what kind of pressure the team is facing to keep up its reputation as a perennial Division II powerhouse.
"We have come to grips with the fact that there is going to be a lot of pressure on us this year," Brill said. "Everyone knows there's pressure. I'm looking forward to the chance to kind of reassert our identity. I'm just really excited to see what happens when we start competing in meets."
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