Friday, April 16, 2010

LSC Track & Field Outlook - 2010: Eastern New Mexico and Texas A&M-Commerce

By Special Contributor Don Garrett

Previous Outlooks
Abilene Christian
LSC Track and Field Outlook – 2010: Eastern New Mexico
The Greyhounds/Zias of Eastern New Mexico look markedly better on the men’s side and about the same on the women’s side compared to 2009. Last year was the most competitive the ENMU men have been in years and they will quite possibly move up another step or two in 2010. Their cross country team was markedly better in 2009 than previous years, which bodes well in a conference meet where there are 4 distance races to contest – the 1500, steeplechase, 5K and 10K.

WOMEN – they scored only 13 points in 2009, good for 6th place. WTAMU joins the fray on the women’s side this year. It appears to me that ENMU can still finish in 6th if they can pass up TAMU-C, because there is a high likelihood that WTAMU places ahead of both of those teams.

LOSSES – Vyance Vega finished 5th in the hammer throw and Tracey Young was 6th in the high jump and that is it when it comes to people who placed in individual events last year – only three points lost. Conitra Olison also placed 7th in the 100 and Lorena Garza was 7th in the discus, both just missing picking up some points.

RETURNEES – only Kassie Daugherty, who placed 4th in the discus to garner 4 points is back. The Zias did have a large number of people who almost scored individual points – Chenavia Ruffin who made the finals in the 400, but did run in the finals race; Nicole Blackwell – 8th in the 800; Hilaree Chavez – 8th in the javelin; Nicole (Nicky) Reid – 7th in the 800 and someone who ran extremely well in the cross country season; and Britney Stephens, 8th in the 100. If these women move up a place or two, they easily replace the points they lost from 2009.

NEWCOMERS – very few kids here and mostly transfers. Samantha Draper transferred in from Modesto JC, where she was 3rd in the California JC 800; Cristal Chuca was a cross country All-American for El Paso Community College, but she has not run on the track since her senior year at Fabens HS; and Allison Whitehead – District 5-2A champ in the high jump for Henrietta HS.

The Zias have the same challenge faced by TAMU-C on the women’s team, they simply don’t have very many bodies on the roster. It would appear to me that ENMU will fight it out with Commerce for the 6th place, with the loser settling for the cellar in the conference.

MEN – on the other hand, the Greyhound men’s team is decidedly better than 2009, when they finished 6th out of 7th. They will be fighting with an improved TAMU-K team, an improved WTAMU team and a TAMU-C team just trying to hold their own for 4th-5th-6th-7th places. The lower tier of the conference will be much more competitive than in years past and these teams will siphon off points from the big three – ACU, Angelo, and Tarleton.

KEY LOSSES – Karthick Srimanoharan – 5th in the TJ and 7th in the LJ for 2 points (Karthick is a super-nice kid, but as the PA announcer for 3-4 of his meets in the past 2 years, I don’t mind seeing him leave – HA!), Tyson Jex – 6th in the steeple for 1 point, and Josh Browning – 6th in the 200. That represents a grand total of 4 points from the total of 24 points in 2009. There were others who came close to scoring at the conference meet in 2009 – Robert Griego – 7th in the javelin and a kid who scored big in the conference meet in past years; Kyle Harris – 8th in the TJ; and Samuel Lukow – 8th in the javelin.

RETURNEES – Jeremy Thompson – the wide receiver from Sweetwater who also placed 3rd in the 400; Daniel Draper – 5th in the javelin; Steven Aragon – 6th in the javelin; Richard Kogo – 6th in the 1500 and 7th in the 10K; and Brian Smith – 6th in the 100. Plus, other kids who almost scored for the Greyhounds – Kenyatta Carter – 7th in the TJ; Logan Robertson – 9th in the 10K, plus 12th in the 5K; Gilbert Manzanares – 8th in the 1500; and Bill Squire, who in 2009 only placed 10th in the discus and hammer, plus 12th in the SP, but he looks like a new man this year – he has already provisionally qualified for nationals in the hammer and is throwing further in each event by large margins over last year. One other kid who might help is Guy Kcholi, the runner from Israel who placed 4th in the 2006 800, but never seems to compete come conference time since then.

NEWCOMERS – lots of interesting new athletes with loads of potential. The new distance runners showed a lot in cross country season as the team was exponentially better than past years. The newcomers include: Antwone Cobbin, from Lancaster, who was 8th in the Region II-4A 800; Dustin Francke – 2nd in the 800 and 8th in the 400 for Hobbs at the New Mexico 5A state track meet and a kid who ran very well in XC; Jacob Lozano – 8th in the 3200 and 11th in the 800 for Los Lunas in the NM 5A state meet and another kid who ran exceptionally well in XC this past fall; Pedro Martinez – 6th in the Region I-5A 3200 for Keller Fossil Ridge; Thomas Martinez – 1st in the 1600, 3rd in the 3200 and 6th in the 800 for Navajo Pine HS in the NM 2A state meet; Marcus Oakley – 2nd in both the shot and discus in the NM 5A state meet for Alamogordo; John Rea – the champion in the California Big 8 JC steeplechase; and Robert Wride – 3rd in the NM 5A 100 and 200 for Alamogordo.

On paper, this ENMU team is much better than last year and in 2009, they were already better than they had been in previous years. It certainly appears Coach Eric Boll has this team on an upswing, with lots of new people, most of who appear to have some real potential. Interestingly, there is a niche that ENMU can fill in New Mexico – the University of New Mexico has excellent distance runners (including the D-I national champ in the indoor mile), but they are almost all from Great Britain and New Mexico State does not field a men’s track team. ENMU appears to be grabbing up a lot of the better distance talent in New Mexico and that will pay off in the next few years.

LSC Track and Field Outlook – 2010: Texas A&M-Commerce

The Lions will really have a challenge this year. On both the men’s and women’s side, the competition will be much improved and TAMU-C will probably be the most affected by this improvement in the overall caliber of teams. The women will be fighting the battle with a very small roster – Coach Sara Davis is only in her second year in Commerce and she will need a little time to build the roster back to a competitive level. The men’s team lost a LOT of points from last year and they will be hard pressed to make up those points.

WOMEN – not a lot of points were lost from individual competitors last year (only 3), but Commerce scored over 1/3 of their points in the relays (8 of their total points of 23) and many of their relays members are gone. There are some very interesting new kids, particularly among their transfers. They will need to come on in a big way to keep TAMU-C in the hunt for 4th place.

LOSSES – only 2 individual point scorers – Randahl Hickman (5th in the 100 for 2 points) and Alycia Wallace (6th in the 100). However, they ran on both relays as well. Leslea Traylor also is gone and she just missed scoring in 2009, finishing 7th in the 400 hurdles.

KEY RETURNEES – Kate Donovan finished 3rd in the steeple for 6 big points in 2009 (also finishing 9th in the 1500) and La’Shara Jefferson finished 3rd in the shot put (also finishing 8th in the discus.) Donovan had a very disappointing cross country season, which hopefully won’t carry over to the track. The Lady Lions also return Desiree Spencer, who finished 8th in the triple jump and 9th in the long jump as a freshman and could break into the top 6 in either event.

IMPORTANT NEWCOMERS – as you can see above, with only 3 returnees who stand much of a chance to score at conference, the newcomers will make or break this team. This list is led by some strong transfers: Shagayla Petty, who transferred from Huston Tillotson, finished 5th in the NAIA 110 hurdles in 2009 and Charnita Hollands, who transferred from TAMU-Corpus Christi, was 17th in the Southland Conference 200. Porscha Young redshirted in 2009, but she placed in three events (2nd 400, 3rd TJ, and 4th LJ) in her HS district for Linden-Kildare in 2008. A thin crop of high school additions include Delaney Allison, who place 8th in the state A 100 hurdles for Tom Bean, in the Sherman area and Chelsea DiMarco, placed 4th in the Region IV-5A 100H in 2008 for San Antonio Madison.

With the improvement of both TAMU-K and Eastern New Mexico and the addition of WTAMU this year, it appears that Commerce could drop all the way from 4th to 7th this year. And, Incarnate Word comes in with a good team in 2011 and the Lady Lions might need a good recruiting year this summer to keep from falling to 8th.

MEN – this team lost two/thirds of their points from 2009! Coach Schneider was hired after the school year began. He had a very successful career in the D-III ranks in Wisconsin, but he will have to build a recruiting base in Texas.

LOSSES – 32 of the 49 points scored in 2009 are gone – ouch! Begin with three athletes who scored 8 points each – Lyndon Wyse (4th LJ and 4th TJ), Cody Hughes (2nd in the 5K), and Leslie White (4th in the high jump and 4th in the javelin). Add to that Dean Laing, who was 3rd in the decathlon and Jeffrey Rayome, who was 6th in the SP. Hughes’ loss decimated the cross country team last fall and only the return of two 2009 redshirts may help ease his loss to the track team.

RETURNEES – thank goodness for the return of Nathan Womack, who picked up 10 points in 2009 by finishing 3rd in the 800 and 4th in the steeple. The only other returned who scored in 2009 is Cairo Thornton, who was 6th in the 400 for a single point. Demetrius Holmes (9th in the 110 hurdles) and Kyle Weaver (7th in the HJ, 8th in the LJ, and 9th in the triple jump) are the only other Lions who came close to scoring in 2009. There are 2 key redshirts who can help save the day in 2010 – Tyler Tyndell, who was 5th in the 2008 5K and Robert Reed, who was 6th in the 2008 1500. Both are seasoned runners and should be contenders for distance points, if they are both healthy.

NEWCOMERS – there are several newcomers who placed at the HS district meets in 2009, but mostly at smaller classification schools. The top new prospects are: Craig Shelton, who at the 2A state meet placed 2nd in the 300H and 4th in the 110H for Lone Oak; Nathan White, 4th in the 3A state 3200 for Wills Points; Laurencio Tamayo, 8th in the A state 3200 for tiny Lingleville HS; Derek Denton, 4th in the Region III-3A HJ for Grand Saline; and Joel Day, 4th in the Region II-3A 400 for Princeton. Some of these kids and others on the roster have some potential, but notice that most of the new kids are distance runners and young distance runners often take 2-3 years to mature and become viable college competitors. This crop of recruits will have to be evaluated in 2-3 years, not on the basis of what they do in 2010.

I think it will be a tough year for the Lions on the men’s side as well. I see WTAMU being hugely improved over their inaugural year at the LSC track meet, both TAMU-K and Eastern New Mexico appear to be much better. I think the redshirts from 2009 will have to have a good season to keep the Lions from sinking into 7th place.

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