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    March 24, 2011

    CHICAGO - As the UIC men's and women's track and field teams open their competitive seasons this weekend, junior distance runner Brian Denk will jumpstart his campaign by competing in the Stanford Invitational, one of the nation's largest and most competitive track events in the country.

    Denk will race in the 10,000 meter along with 85 other individual participants Friday night from Cobb Track and Angel Field in Palo Alto. When mapping out his distance running schedule for the 2011 calendar year, he turned most of his focus to the 10K, a race that stretches 6.2 miles in totality. He knew he would be tested right away, kicking off his outdoor season at such a prestigious event.

    "The Stanford Invite has a history of some very fast times in the 10K," said Denk. "If you look at the national leaderboard, about half of the top-100 times in the 10K are run at that invite. It's going to be a great race tomorrow; there are a couple of rival runners in the race, which will make it fun. I know there are three guys from Butler running, along with someone from Illinois. Not to mention, there's runners from all over the country. It's going to be some great competition."

    Denk, who will race at about 10:45 p.m. Pacific Time (12:45 a.m. CST) emerged as one of UIC's top distance runners during the outdoor season last year, taking fifth in the 5,000 meter at the Horizon League Championships. He has also spent considerable time competing in the 1,500 meter race.

    Those experiences, along with an intense training schedule, have prepared Denk to aim for the school record in the 10K, held by Fernando Reyes, with a time of 30:03.71. In the past two weeks, Denk has run about 90 miles per week.

    "My goal for the race is 29:45," Denk said. "Last year's regional qualifying time was right around 29:46, so ideally, if I ran the race in 29:45, I think I would have a pretty good chance to move onto the West Regional. Breaking 30:00 and setting the school record is the ultimate goal, and would be pretty special."

    Head men's and women's track and field coach Jim Knoedel, who will be accompanying Denk to Palo Alto, has been extremely pleased with the progression of Denk's career.

    "It's been great to see Brian make a 180-degree turn from his freshman year, where he had some struggles," Knoedel said. "I'm excited to know that I will have another year to coach him. He's going to set some times that will make him one of the best runners in the Midwest. This weekend will be a great experience for him."

    Following this weekend's race, Denk will take about three weeks off from competition, before returning to the Flames' distance lineup on April 16 for the DePaul Invitational. This spring, Denk also plans to also compete in both the 5K and 1,500 meter races.