Monday, January 4, 2010

LSC Track and Field Outlook – 2010: ACU

By Special Contributor Don Garrett


During the lull before the February signing date, I thought I would look at the track and field prospects for the LSC track teams, beginning with the three schools that compete in indoor track and field – ACU, WTAMU, and TAMU-K. Sometime in February prior to the beginning of outdoor track, I will look at the other LSC track schools – Tarleton, Angelo, ENMU, and TAMU-Commerce. By then, the conference predictions will also be like and I will weigh in on the accuracy of those predictions.

Well, I guess it makes sense to start a series of track outlooks with ACU, since the ACU men have won 18 straight conference crowns. The ACU women were battered last year by the strongest Angelo State team in 2 decades. Coach Don D. Hood left ACU after last season to move to Brownwood HS and a huge question mark for ACU for the 2010 season will be seeing how the Wildcats respond to new coach Roosevelt Lofton – who has been a head coach at 2 D-I programs in the past (Grambling and Virginia Tech). There has been some shuffling of assistant coaches and the vaulters will no longer be coached on a part-time basis by Don Hood (the older Don – also a former ACU head coach).

ACU has lost considerable firepower on both the men’s and women’s side. This outlook is based on the roster as it stands going into the holiday break. Knowing ACU, I fully expect to see some midterm additions.

WOMEN

ACU scored 175 points at the conference meet (to 331 for Angelo!) and the returnees only represent 73 individual points from 2009. The losses were many:

WInrose Karunde (won the 5K and 10K – 20 points); Loice Cheboi (won the steeple, and 3rd in the 5K and 10K – 22 points – she transferred to Texas Tech to run with her twin sister, Caroline, the former NAIA national champ from Wayland Baptist); Kim Prather (won the 400, 2nd in the 200 – she had one more outdoor season left, but graduated last May and has been accepted into several graduate programs around the country and apparently decided to pass up that final season – 18 points); Azraa Rounds (2nd in 400, 5th in 200 – 10 points); Callie Young (won the vault – 10 points) and Allison Fowler (4th in the steeple – 4 points). That represents 84 points lost

There are some strong returnees, particularly Wanda Hutson (won the 100 and 3rd in the 400); Paige Newby (2nd in the Discus, 3rd in the hammer and 5th in the javelin), Destinee Nixon (2nd in the TJ, 4th in the 100H, 5th in the 400H); and national champion javelin thrower Linda Brivule. The only drawback for Brivule is that she competes in only one event – javelin – in a conference where most throwers compete in up to four throwing events. ACU also returns Elizabeth Buyse (3rd in the vault), Amber Brooks (4th in the heptathlon) , Joella Foster (4th in the 100) and Amanda Clemons (5th LJ and 6th TJ). Also key for ACU will the return of two outstanding 2009 redshirts: Jessica Withrow, the former national champ heptathlete and thrower Jessica Sloss, who is a national qualifier in the discus. Those 2 women represent 30-40 or more points at conference all by themselves.

ACU did add some good new talent, including outstanding sprinting twins Lynette and Lauren Atkinson from Missouri. Lynette was probably the top sprint prospect out of Missouri in 2009. Also added were Chloe Susset, the French junior steeplechase champ in 2009; Michelle Ratliff from Amarillo San Jacinto Christian who scored 31 points at the TAPPS state meet in 2009 and who is a terrific heptathlon prospect; Sydney Smith, from Big Lake Reagan County, who was 2nd in the 2009 A 200; and Shelaina Lakey from Hamlin, former 2A state qualifier in the discus and a cousin of the great throwing Lakey sisters who threw for Angelo.

On the women’s side, ACU lost 84 points from 2009. Their 2 redshirts can make up 30-40 of the points if they are totally healthy (Jessica Withrow redshirted due to a injuries requiring surgeries) and the new kids might account for an additional 30-40 points, but that still only makes up 60-80 points total. ACU will be hard-pressed to even score the 175 points they scored in 2009. Angelo should be much weaker than 2009, but they did win the LSC by an astounding 156 points! ACU will have to meet and surpass all of the potential to have any chance of regaining that crown.

MEN

ACU won the men’s title again, by exactly 100 points, scoring 238 points. However, they lost 114 individual event points from that 2009 team, including 3 former national champs.

The losses for ACU include: Jordon Johnson, the former national 400 champ who was 1st in the 200 and 2nd in the 400 in 2009; Raymond Radway, also a former national 400 champ who was the top qualifier in the LSC 400, but who was injured prior to the finals; Idiato Jeremiah, 2nd in the TJ and 3rd in the 100; Camille Vandrendriesche, the 3-time national decathlon champ who won the LSC javelin and was 5th in the 110H and 6th in the LJ; Stephen Toler, won the LSC vault and an All-American, who transferred to McMurry; Gerald Chenyi, 2nd in the LJ and HJ and 3rd in the TJ; Andy Henson, who won the decathlon; Cory Altenberg, 3rd in the vault and an All-American who also transferred to McMurry; and Harold Jackson , who finished 6th in the 400H. 114 points is a LOT of points to lose!

The list of returnees begins with 3 national champions: Nick Jones, the 2-time national discus champ who won both the LSC SP and DT; triple jump national champ Ramon Sparks, who won the LSC LJ and TJ; and Andrew McDowell, the national indoor hurdle champ who won the LSC 110H and narrowly lost that event at outdoor nationals. Other returnees include Desmond Jackson, the conference 100 champ, Amos Sang, the national and conference runnerup in the 10K and 3rd in the 1500 at the LSC meet; Cleophas Tanui, who won the conference 10K and finished 4th at nationals in that event; Aaron Cantrell, the conference runnerup and an All-American in the vault; James Hardin, who was 5th in the conference decathlon and a national qualifier; and football fullback Emery Dudensing, who was third in the LSC HT. Also crucial to conference and national title hopes is the return of redshirt Tyler Fleet who won 2008 conference DT and was 4th in the HT that year. Fleet is capable of winning both of those events at conference, particularly if teammate Nick Jones decides to redshirt this spring.

ACU adds some good new kids, but I simply don’t think this group can make up the 114 points that the Wildcats lost from 2009. The additions include: Colby Delbene, a New York state finalist in the 3200; Jordan Geary, from North Crowley, who missed the state meet by the narrowest of margins as he finished 3rd in both the Region I-5A 100 and 400; Spencer Lynn, the 3A runnerup in both the 1600 and 3200 for White Oak; Bryce Nichols, from Abilene Wylie, who finished 3rd in the 3A discus (and who also is a strong javelin thrower); and Romain Rybicki, a Frenchman who is supposed to be pretty good, but who was injured all of cross country season.

These new kids probably represent 25-35 points, Having Tyler Fleet back from a redshirt could represent 20 more points. However, ACU lost 114 points from 2009 and will probably only be able to make up 50 of those. That should make the conference meet on the men’s side as competitive as any in recent memory.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry, my fault. I inserted the note about transferring to Texas Tech on Loice Cheboi and it should have been posted on Winrose Karunde (that's what I get for sending off the report without a thorough edit.) Cheboi, a classic underachiever, had finished her eligibility. Winrose Karunde has 2 more years of eligibility and will take those years at Texas Tech, alongside her twin sister, Caroline.

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