Tuesday, August 31, 2010

LSC Scoop Cross Country Previews - By Don Garrett

We would like to extend a huge thank you to Don Garrett for his work. As you can tell from reading the previews, it is a labor of love.

Lone Star Conference Women’s Cross Country Preview Fall 2010

On the women’s side, the big disappointment had to be ACU, who fell all the way to 8th place. Midwestern won, but not by as big a margin as I expected them to win. Angelo ran poorly all year, but ran extremely well at conference and almost caught Midwestern. The East Central and Central Oklahoma teams both overachieved in 2009 and UCO might have moved even higher if they had not lost one of their best runners to injury – she literally limped through the conference meet. West Texas ran well for a team of mostly freshmen, but Tarleton was a big disappointment on the women’s side, finishing in 6th. Painfully, Southeast Oklahoma could not even field a full team – they ran only 3 runners at the LSC meet.

This year, Midwestern should again be the class of the field on the women’s side and ACU looks strong on the men’s side, but I would say that particularly ACU is vulnerable if another team has a year where they improve substantially. The wild card is new LSC member Incarnate Word, who have been picked middle of the pack by the conference SID’s (5th in the men and 7th in the women), but I think both teams could be top 3 teams – the Cardinals will have a definite impact in their first year in the LSC.

(The number is parentheses is the place in the 2009 LSC meet)
ACU – 8th in 2009, picked 6th in the preseason poll.

ACU returns only 2 women, total, off of a very weak team, which finished 8th – by far the lowest place for ACU in LSC history. Their additions should actually make this a better team than 2009. ACU lost Shayla Herndon (35th), Lindsey Putman (44th – transferred to UTA); Kaily Timmons (78th) and Caitlin Hanisco (81st).

Returning: Chloe Susset (6th, plus 1st in the LSC steeplechase on the track); Kelsi Williamson (43rd).

Anais Belledant – Jr – France – came at midterm in 2010 and won the 1500 & 5K at LSC meet
Alyse Goldsmith – So – Katy Cinco Ranch/Trans from Okla State – 63rd in the Big 12 XC; 30th in the 5K
Sally Hays – Fr – A&M Consolidated – Dist 12-5A 2nd 3200, 3rd 1600
Rachel Belcher – Fr – Bulverde Bracken Christian – 4th TAPPS 2A 3200 on the track
Oksana Hays – Fr – Bryan Allen Academy – 3rd TAPPS 5A 800 in 2008
Greta Porisch – Fr – San Antonio Antonian – 13th TAPPS 5A XC
Jess Weeden – Fr – Monroe, WI – 6th WIAA Regional Division II 800

OUTLOOK: I could see their top 7 including Belledant, Susset, Goldsmith, Hays, Williamson, and some combination of Belcher, Porisch, O. Hays, and Weeden fighting for the last 2 spots to run at the conference meet. A better team than 2009, but still only a 5th or 6th place team.

ANGELO STATE – a very surprising 2nd place in 2009, picked 2nd again this year.

Angelo took 2 big losses, losing Brittney Heath (4th), Paige Massengill (13th). But, they do have some very good returnees, including: Emeline Crutcher (8th – a terrifically pleasant surprise for Angelo in 2009), Alyssa Priest (22nd), Jessica Boudreau (26th), Kami Orsak (54th), Brittney Welchon (60th) and Jenifer Flanery (63rd).

NEWCOMERS - this signing class is solid, but not overwhelming as a group:
Kelsey Merritt – East Bernard – she was 3rd in the Region IV-2A 1600 and 3200, missing state by inches in both races
Katy Williams – A&M Consolidated – 4th in the District 12-5A 3200 – this is a very tough district
Sofia Ramos – Bryson – 5th in the Region II-A 800
Shelby Langford – Leander Vista Ridge – never ran above JV

OUTLOOK: No way does Angelo lose 2 kids from the top 15 in the LSC meet and come back stronger. Probably only one kid in the recruiting class (Kelsey Merritt) has the chance to seriously impact this year. Top 9 may look like this: Crutcher, Priest, Boudreau, Merritt, Orsak, Welchon, Flanery, Ramos and Williams . This appears to be a much weaker team than 2009 and they may be vulnerable to an onslaught by UIW.

CENTRAL OKLAHOMA – a solid 4th in 2009, preseason pick of tie for 3rd with East Central

UCO might well have finished even higher than 4th in 2009, but outstanding runner Ilina Istrate was injured and painfully hobbled through that race, finishing in 32nd instead of the top 10 where she probably belonged. UCO did lose an excellent runner in Evelyn Berko (11th), but they appear to have an excellent core of returnees, most of whom were freshmen in 2009 and 2-3 new runners who could help them hold onto that 4th place standing or even move up a place or two.

RETURNEES: Cara Cox (19th – one of the better LSC freshmen in 2009), Angelica Martinez (20th – ditto), Angel Vick (29th), Alina Istrate (32nd – if she was healthy, she is top 10 or no worse than top 15 in 2009), Julie Crocker (47th), Hannah Pempsell (49th) and Iasha Keller (65hth) – that is 7 of the top 8 returning.

Jacquelynne Skocik – Jenks, OK – 1st OK 6A XC (no track results since 2007)
Tess Lackey – Ardmore, OK, Plainview HS – 5th OK 5A XC; on the track OK 5A – 4th 3200, 7th 1600
Katie Kerns – Pryor, OK – 15th OK 5A XC

OUTLOOK: A good squad that will take a small step backwards with Berko graduating, but who is bringing in three good newcomers. I see the top 9 running something like: Istrate, Cox, Martinez, Skocik, Vick, Lackey, Crocker, Pempsell and either Kerns or Keller. Probably holds onto 4th place or moves up a place or two due to Angelo being weaker than 2009.

EAST CENTRAL – 3rd in 2009; preseason pick of tie for 3rd with UCO

ECU had a good year in 2009, even with one of their top runners, Sylvia Barkechir, hobbled. They did well because 3 freshmen and one senior came thru for them. The losses were heavy for ECU – Sarah Reihart running the race of her life to finish 5th, Sylvia Barkechir (37th running injured); and Alex Kirkpatrick (48th). It does not look to me that they have adequately replaced Barkechir and Reihart.

RETURNEES: Hayley Jennings (at 9th, certainly one of the top 2-3 freshmen in the LSC in 2009); Andrea McKinney (23rd), Miranda Claxton (27th), Carina Clemente (28th), and Samantha Bartlett (77th).

Caroline Masai – transfer from Colby (KS) CC – 19th Reg VI 800 on the track
Jordan Earle – Caffeyville (KS) CC – 152nd the JC national meet

OUTLOOK: I see this team losing ground in 2010. The 2 additions have underwhelmed in junior college (Masai at 2 JC’s – Colby and NMJC). ECU loses some huge firepower from 2009. I see their top 8 looking something like: Jennings, McKinney, Claxton, Clemente, Earle, Masai, Bartlett and Rachel Pratt. No way this squad is better than 2009 and there are teams eager to surge past them.

EASTERN NEW MEXICO – 7th in 2009; picked 7th again in 2010

The ENMU men saw a huge improvement in 2009 and the women also improved but not as dramatically as the men. ENMU has virtually their entire team back, including one that I was certain had used her eligibility, but she apparently has one year of XC left (Jerri Martin). The only loss from last year is Cristal Chuca (66th) and there appears to be at least one newcomer who can easily overcome that loss.

RETURNEES: Nicole (Nicky) Reid (15th, but then score 19 points on the track, 2nd in both the steeple and 5K and 6th in the 1500 – one of the top distance runners in the LSC); Jerri Martin (24th), Danielle Jones (38th – then finished 6th in the conference 10K on the track); Samantha Draper (52nd), Yared Gamiz (53rd), Theresa Chacon (only 58th in XC, but scored on the track by finishing 8th in the steeple); Megan Bryant (68th), and Nicole Blackwell (75th).

Adrienne Montoya – Estancia, NM – 2nd NM 2A XC; on the track 1st NM 2A 800, 2nd 1600 – interesting kid who attended the Academy of Performing Arts to study dance and was allowed to compete for Estancia because she lived in that school district
Kris Cogswell – Las Cruces, NM, Onate – 8th NM 5A 800
Brittany Buchanan – Albuquerque Hope Christian – 11th NM 3A 1600 & 3200
Linda Vicario – El Paso Chapin – District 1-4A 7th 3200, 8th 1600

OUTLOOK: This team could possibly improve a place or two if one or more of their freshmen come through. I imagine their top 9 might include: Reid, Martin, Jones, Draper, Montoya, Gamiz, Chacon, plus Cogswell, Vicario, Buchanan, Bryant and Blackwell fighting for those last 2 spots.

INCARNATE WORD – 2nd in the Heartland Conference meet, behind an excellent DBU squad that would have possibly won the LSC in 2009; preseason pick of 7th

Here the predictions get a lot more interesting, because of UIW being new to the LSC. They had a pretty good squad in 2009 and I think they are actually better in 2010. I don’t see any way they finish as low as 7th this year and they could actually break into the top 5 or even top 3. They did lose one kid from 2009 – Rose Caldwell (25th in the HC). They did not add a lot, but their additions are intriguing and their returnees are seasoned.

RETURNEES: Starts with another French citizen, Marie Troufflard (6th); Alison Gonzales (12th), Alma Santos (15th), Stephanie Glatt (23rd); Alma Salinas (30th), and Meagan Hoff (31st). Troufflard should contend for a Top 10 spot right off the bat.

Danielle de la Paz – Corpus Christi Calallen – 8th in the Region IV-4A 800
Celeste Dunlap – ex-military and out of JC for about 8 years, but still ranked #4 all-time in the 5K on the track at West Valley JC in California
Alana Almurudis – San Antonio FEAST (the home school association) – strictly XC runner in HS

OUTLOOK: If former soldier Dunlap finds her stride, this team could contend for a top 3 spot and I have no doubt they should be in the top 5 with a group of top 9 runners composed of Troufflard, Gonzales, Santos, Glatt, Salinas, de le Paz, Hoff, Dunlap and Almurudis.

MIDWESTERN STATE – 1st, but only 3 points ahead of Angelo in 2009; prediction of 1st for this year

Somehow, Midwestern State won the LSC, yet it still seemed to be a somewhat disappointing year for them. They only won the LSC by 3 points and probably should have bested 2nd-place Angelo by 30 or more. In 2010, MSU loses three runners from the middle of their pack – Julie Bell (25th), Cynthia Carrillo (31st), Hassie Sutton (33rd) - but they bring back their top runners and they have added a recruiting class that is easily the best in the conference. As I mentioned last year, MSU might have had enough depth to finish 1st and 2nd in the LSC and their depth is still amazing.

RETURNEES: Start with LSC Champ Sydnee Cole, then throw in Kayla Hendrix (12th), Heather Owens (14th), Lindsey Pate (18th), Melody Caldwell (57th), as well as Bailey Dulaney, who ran in their top 7 all year but was unable to run at the LSC meet. That tallies 4 returnees from the top 18 in 2009 – a pretty good place to start.

Brissia Montalvo – Transfer from El Paso CC/UTEP – 17th in the JC XC last year and ran #2 for UTEP all year in 2007
Ashley Flores – Haltom City – 11th 5A XC; qualified for state in the 3200 by finishing 2nd in the Region I-5A 3200 (also finished 3rd in the 1600), but did not run at state for some reason
Cara Mack – Llano – 4th 3A 3200
Janel Campbell – Ingram Tom Moore – 6th 3A 3200
Casey Castro – Burkburnett – mostly relays

OUTLOOK: I see a top 10 that reads Cole, Montalvo, Hendrix, Flores, Owens, Pate, Mack, Campbell, Dulaney, and Caldwell. I do not see anyone in the conference that should even get close, but stranger things have happened in this world!

SOUTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA – could not field a full team of 5 at the LSC meet; predicted to finish in 13th

Things are really tough on the cross country course for SEO right now. They were unable to field a full team at the conference meet in 2009. They only had three young women run in 2009 and they are all gone from the team, including the one runner that was competitive for the Savage Storm – Shayna McCormick (41st).

RETURNEES – the top returnee is Jessica Beames, who did not run at the LSC meet in 2009 and placed 74th at the 2008 meet. The only other returnee is Rachel Brunk.

Alison Keatts – Gunter – 4th in the District 11-2A 800 in 2009
Kenna Chaffin – Durant – 16th in the OK 5A 800 back in 2008
Ashley Fawks – Rockwall – I found a few results from 3 years ago while she was at Rockwall

It appears there is really no way this team climbs out of the cellar at the LSC meet. With even one person injured or sick on the day of the LSC meet, they will be unable to even field a team for conference. That is painful. It looks like their top 5 will be Beames, Brunk, Keatts, Chaffin and Fawks.

SOUTHWEST OKLAHOMA – 9th in 2009 and picked 10th in this season’s preseason poll

SWO was not too far from being competitive in 2009, I actually thought they would finish higher than 9th. They lost 2 pretty good kids in Sarah Hix (39th) and Tatum Hofmann (45th), both of whom had eligibility left but apparently left the program. They added some good hands and have one excellent runner back and they could move up a few places in 2010.

RETURNEES: Start with Chelsey Dillon (from Mabank, TX) who was one of the top freshmen in the LSC in 2009, finishing in 10th at the conference meet. They did lose their #2 and #3 runners from 2009 – Hix and Hofmann. But, they also return Carissa Curtis (56th), Micah Mathis (64th), Patty Murphy (67th), Lisa Garza (70th) and Melissa Banks (76th).

Temer Yimer – Transfer from Johnson County CC in Kansas – at the JC indoors in 2009, she was 7th in the 5K, 8th in the mile and 9th in the 3K – a very nice addition
Kelli Quimby – Hennesy, OK – the OK 2A state champ in the 3200, 4th in the 1600 and 7th in the 800

OUTLOOK: A top 9 of Dillon, Yimer, Quimby, Curtis, Mathis, Murphy, Garza, Banks, plus Zandra Allen from last year’s team, is a pretty competitive squad, not top 5, but better than the preseason pick of 10th.

TARLETON STATE – 6th in 2009 and preseason pick of 8th

Not sure why Tarleton is picked 8th – they return the top 4 from their 2009 team and they probably had the 2nd best overall signing class of any LSC team. Their losses were not that devastating – Sheila Bishop (55th), Morgan Kuykendall (72nd) and Brittney Drolette (71st).

RETURNEES: Vanessa Elizondo was enormously improved in 2009, jumping to 7th place in the LSC meet: Shadoh Campbell (30th), Katherine Grillo (36th, plus 7th in the LSC steeplechase on the track); Ryland Pittenger (46th) and Kyndall Trnka (69th and 10th in the LSC 1500 on the track, almost scoring at the conference meet). That is actually a pretty good core of runners to work with.

NEWCOMERS – I think that 2-3 of these young women help immediately
Payton Shoush – Brock – the 2A state champ in the 800
Celeste Myer – Florence – 3rd in the 2A 1600
Morgan Reed – Callisburg – 6th 2A 800
Ashley Husbands – Denton – 3rd Dist 5-4A XC
Melissa Lewis – Justin Northwest – 13th Distr 5-5A XC

OUTLOOK: With a top 9 composed of Elizondo, Campbell, Grillo, Myer, Shoush, Pittenger, Reed, Trnka and Husbands, this team should be nearer to the top of middle of the pack (4th-5th) than in their preseason prediction of 8th.

TEXAS A&M - COMMERCE -- 11th in 2009, preseason pick of 12th
Commerce had a very, very tough year in 2009. However, they have added MANY new faces, while losing one key runner from this past season. They lost Maci Bradford, who at 40th place was their highest finisher in 2009, plus losing Gaby Tetrick (74th). Bradford was an interesting case – she did not compete in track or XC in high school, playing soccer. At times, she was fairly competitive, but for whatever reason, she will not be returning.

RETURNEES: Kate Donovan (42nd, but she was much more competitive in 2008 as a freshman finishing 23rd – she also finished 4th in the LSC steeplechase on the track); Jennifer Speer (62nd); Jamie Hays (80th). If Kate Donovan returns to her 2008 form, she is capable of a top 20 finish and this team is immediately improved over 2009.

NEWCOMERS – no one stands out in this group, but there are lot more bodies to compete for the top 9 spots to run at conference and only 1-2 of them have to pan out to have a vastly improved team
Carolyn Bell – McKinney Christian/Trans from Vanderbilt – former TAPPS 2A champ in XC, 1600, 3200; was 68th in the SEC XC in 2007
Shunterrical Lamb – Dallas Kimball – 4th 4A 800 – 2009; 4th Region II-4A 800 – 2010
Alysha Turner – Los Angeles Dorsey/Trans from West LA JC – 5th Cal JC 800 – 2009
Rachael Biggers – Dallas Lincoln – 3rd in the Region II-4A 800 in 2006
K’Nycha Johnson – Little Elm – 1st Dist 5-4A 100, 400 – 2009 (trying to move up to distances)
Sara Matheny – Flower Mound Marcus – 14th Dist 6-5A XC, in a highly competitive HS district
Tayloure Senter – Mesquite Horn – 28th Dist 11-5A XC
Taquila Palmer – Tyler Lee – only found a few scattered XC results
Mary Jane Watkins – Como-Pickton – could not find any results on her

OUTLOOK: There is potential for much more depth with this team than in 2009. Commerce competed with the bare minimum number of competitors at the conference meet – 5. It is much more likely that this team runs 9-10 at conference and those competitors might be: Donovan, Bell, Lamb, Turner, Speer, Biggers, Johnson, Hays, Matheny, and Senter. Will it be enough to catch TAMU-K? I seriously doubt , but this team should be more competitive.

TEXAS A&M-KINGSVILLE – 10th – 2009; 11th preseason

Huge loss in Erica Alvarado, who was the conference runner-up last year. Hard to believe Kingsville finished 10th as a team and had the conference runnerup. Also lost Grecia Volantin (79th) and Tuveesha Jones, a quartermiler pressed into service to get 5 runners on the team who finished last (83rd) in the conference race. I give her props for stepping up and making that effort for the team.

RETURNEES: Jessica Martinez (17th, plus a strong 3rd in the 5K on the track); Regina Carvajal (80th). There are also so kids from the track team – 400 hurdlers/800 runners – who are running XC to beef up their team: Ninfa Rios (6th in the LSC 400H in 2009) and Diana Zarate (8th in the LSC 400H last year and 4th in 2009). I know that Rios has run the 800 some.

Tazna (or Tezna) Roy – Palacios – 5th 3A 800 in 2009, but was DQ’d in the Region IV-3A in 2010
Briana Villareal – La Feria – 4th Region IV-3A 800 – 2009; 1st Dist 32-3A 800
Marissa Acosta – Alice – 2nd Dist 31-4A 800

OUTLOOK: Tough to lose the conference runnerup, but still this team looks a bit deeper than the 2009 version. With a top 7 of Martinez, Roy, Rios, Zarate, Acosta, Villareal and Carvajal, they will be in a fight to finish 10th-11th overall. If the 2 hurdlers (Rios and Zarate) are able to step up and be competitive, this team could still surprise some people.

WEST TEXAS A&M – 5th in 2009; preseason pick of 5th

This is an up-and-coming program! Solid 5th in 2009, just 12 points behind UCO. Could move up another few places, even though the top 5 will be very competitive, especially with the addition of a good Incarnate Word team. WTAMU did lose a very good one in Eddah Toroitch (16th), plus Nicole Hudgens (50th). Those losses are replaceable with a good recruiting class.

RETURNEES: Aries Bazaldua (3rd – she was THE best freshman in an excellent crop of LSC freshmen in 2009, also won the LSC 10K on the track); Allie Reyna (21st – also 8th in the LSC 800 and 1500), Jessica Blakely (34th – 5th in the LSC steeplechase); Allison Medina (59th); Brieanna Garcia (61st- she actually ran much better than that most of the season). 5 of top 7 returning.

Amber Moore – Longview Spring Hill – 8th 3A 3200, but 4th in both the 1600 and 3200 in 2009
Brenda Jemutai – Kenya – can’t find any stats on her, but that is common for Kenyan HS athletes – very little HS information at least in locations that I can find them
Olivia Martinez – Canyon – Dist 3-4A 3rd 800, 6th 1600

OUTLOOK: Excellent nucleus back, if Bazaldua can avoid a sophomore slump. Not sure how good the Kenyan, Jemutai, will be, because I couldn’t find any stats on her, but I suspect the WT coaches would not bring her to Canyon if she does not have some upside. Therefore, I suspect their top 8 in order might include: Bazaldua, Reyna, Jemutai, Blakely, Garcia, Moore, Medina, and Martinez. This team would appear to have the potential to move up a place or two in the standings in 2010.

MY PRESEASON PREDICTION OF FINISH (with LSC preseason picks in parentheses)

1. Midwestern (1st) – Duh!
2. Central Oklahoma (tie for 3rd) – places 2-8 are virtual tossup
3. Incarnate Word (7th) – this team was pretty dadgum good in 2009 and will make their presence known in the LSC
4. Angelo State (2nd) – lost some firepower from 2009
5. West Texas A&M (5th) – improved in 2010, but not the quantum leap of last season
6. ACU (6th) – with 2 of the top 5 runners in the LSC and a good #3, it will come down to their #4 and #5 spots – if they get decent production there, ACU could move up considerably
7. East Central (tie 3rd) – I am very conflicted about ECU, they lost a lot, they have some good returnees, but their JC transfers are not that promising, therefore a 7th place prediction
8. Tarleton State (8th) – definitely should be improved, but this year the LSC is much stronger than 2009
9. Eastern New Mexico (9th) – ditto!
10. Southwestern Oklahoma (10th) – probably a little stronger than 2009, but enough to move up a place or two? Probably not
11. TAMU-Kingsville – they lost their very best kid to graduation and don’t have the firepower to make up any ground
12. TAMU-Commerce – probably not good enough to move up either, although they should be better than their rather woeful 2009 season
13. Southeastern Oklahoma – I am most certain of 2 places – 1st and 13th

I will try to look at the progress on each team once or twice this season prior to the LSC meet in Abilene on November 6th. It might look very different after 2-3 meets.


Last year came out pretty close to what I expected in the LSC. On the men’s side, ACU won more handily than expected over Tarleton. Eastern New Mexico made a huge leap in the standings from prior years and ended in a solid 3rd. Cameron ran so-so all year, but ran very well at the conference meet to get 4th. The biggest disappointment on the men’s side had to be East Central, who should have been a top 3 contender, but with some key injuries and a runner who could not get eligible, ECU somehow fell all the way to 8th in the 9 team field.

(The number in parentheses is the place at the 2009 LSC meet)
ACU - 1st for the past 18 years and picked 1st in 2010
ACU lost 2 excellent runners from 2009 – Colby Delbene (5th – in the preseason spiels on the conference website, it mentions Delbene as returning, but he left ACU last spring before the outdoor season); and Daniel Maina (12th). Lots of new faces and some could be very good.

RETURNEES: Amos Sang (1st – a good place to start, with the best distance runner in D-II, he also won the 5K and the 10K at the national meet on the track); Cleophas Tanui (2nd); Romain Rybicki (did not run at the conference meet due to injury – he is very injury prone); Spencer Lynn (13th – one of the best freshmen in the LSC in 2009, but has fought an Achilles injury since last year’s indoor season and those are hard to come back from); Jake Schofield (34th), and William Pike (36th, plus he was 7th in the LSC 10K on the track).

James Grantham – North Port, FL/Trans from Rend Lake – 1st FL 4A 1600 in 2007; 1st JC outdoor 4X800 for Rend Lake in 2010 – could be a huge addition
Erik Forrister – Llano – 4th 3A 3200
Gary Duncan – Longview Spring Hill – 8th 3A 3200
Josh Taylor – Forney – 3rd Region II-4A 3200
Will Mack – Boerne Champion - #6 runner for the Nike XC National champ team
Soren Thompson – Frisco Centennial – 2nd Dist 9-4A 3200

NOTE: The other key newcomer will be the new ACU distance coach – whoever that may end up being. Sam Burroughs took the XC job at UNT and left a few weeks ago.

OUTLOOK: A very good team that could be slightly vulnerable if key people (Rybicki and Lynn) do not come back from injury. A top 7 of Sang, Tanui, Grantham, Rybicki, Lynn, Pike, Schofield, plus the 5 freshmen in a constant battle for spots #8 and #9. If 1-2 of the young kids step up and have an excellent frosh season, then this team is not even slightly vulnerable.

ANGELO STATE – 5th in 2009, preseason pick of 6th in 2010

The 2009 version of the Rams had what was frankly a disappointing year and they lost a lot of kids off that team – Nate Gonzales (16th), Brian Carroll (24th), Shannon Cunningham (30th), Hogan Campbell (61st) and Andy Ruvalcaba, who was 55th back in 2008 and did not run in 2009. I simply don’t see anyone on this new team that can fill any of those losses.

RETURNEES: Randall Guinn (21st), Robert Hummingbird (37th), Nick Wargo (42nd) and Isac Valdez (53rd, but he ran better than that earlier in the season). Only one of these kids, Guinn, finished in the top half of the conference in 2009.

NEWCOMERS – this new group does not inspire awe!
Cody Pena – Sonora – 3rd in the Dist 4-2A 800
Cody Rodela – El Paso Burges – 10th in the Dist 1-4A 3200
Clinton Bippert - Medina Valley – has run track at ASU for 2 years, running the 400H

OUTLOOK: It does not look good for Angelo. They have had to recruit a 400 hurdler off the track team to field 7 men at meets. The top 7 will probably read Guinn, Hummingbird, Wargo, Valdez, Pena, Rodela, and Bippert. It will be hard for them to hang onto that preseason 6th place.

CAMERON – 4th in 2009 and picked 4th in the preseason for 2010

Always tough to figure out the Cowboys. In 2009, they did not run that well prior to the conference meet, then came up and almost moved into 2nd place. Their recruiting is always far-flung, since their coach came to Cameron from Virginia Intermont College. Often, I can’t find anything on their international athletes – getting valid info on internationals is rather dicey. Cameron could be very good, but they could just as easily be very bad and could finish anywhere between 2nd and 8th. This year, they lost FOUR of the runners who represented Cameron at the LSC meet in 2009 – Josh Stewart (8), Casey Kreger (48th – after running much better than that place would indicate all season); David Barmasai (56th), and Guy Narcomey (68th).

RETURNEES: Julius Korir (3rd - the top returnee in the LSC who does not run for ACU); Mohamed Khelalfa (10th – ran terribly all year, then ran well at conference); and Juan Ruiz (51st). They also had 2 others who did not run at conference Ramiro Garcia, who was a pretty good runner at FW Northside in high school and Bhupendra Acharya, who I mention because he is the only LSC cross country from Nepal.

NEWCOMERS – lots of new bodies, some with some potential
Brian Mulwo – Kenya/Trans from D-II American International – 11th Northeast-10 10K outdoors and 6th in the NE-10 5K indoors
Chad Foster – Tuttle, OK – 8th OK 4A 800, 6th OK 4A XC
Ben Rupert – Oklahoma City Mt. St. Mary’s – 5th OK 3A XC
Eli Hernandez – El Paso Jefferson – 18th TX 4A XC; 4th Dist I-4A 3200
Lance Karpe – Walters, OK – 10th OK 2A 1600
Marcus Trevino – Mineral Wells – 7th Dist 6-4A 1600 & 3200
Estavan Granados – Lawton, OK
Oluwuseun Patunok-Ajayi – can’t find any stats on him
Krzystof Szcepinski – can’t find anything about him
Sammuel Kibwe - ditto
Tyler Nelson – 6th in the 5-5A JV 3200

OUTLOOK: It is an educated guess at best, but their top 10, in order, could look something like this: Korir, Khelalfa, Mulwo, Szcepinski, Kibue, Foster, Hernandez, Rupert, Ruiz, and Garcia or Acharya. The order could be wildly different, since I am betting that the internationals Mulwo, Szcepinski, and Kibue will contribute. I tend to suspect that this team will finish around 3rd-4th, unless one or more of the internationals produce well, which could mean 2nd or produce poorly, which could mean 6th or 7th.

EAST CENTRAL – 8th in 2009 and picked 8th again this year

What a disappointing season for ECU in 2009. They lost key people to injury (Daniel Kiptoo – 13th in 2008) and ineligibility (UTA transfer Armando Saldivar). This team could have placed in the top 3, but instead they finish a woeful 8th place. They could be very good in 2010 – much, much better than the 8th place they are picked in the preseason if they run to their capability and they don’t lose key people again in 2010. They did lose one kid from their 2009 team – Tyler Jackson (44th)

RETURNEES: Jim Sutrick (6th – had a great year in 2009); Joel Dutton (22nd), Mitchell Haun (43rd), Austin Christian (46th), Carl Williams (49th), Hunter Haun (50th), and Stefan Terrell (64th). Except for Sutrick and possibly Dutton, all of the other ECU runners ran poorly at conference, compared to the previous meets of the year. Then, ECU also get 2 quasi-returnees – the above referenced Kiptoo and Saldivar. Saldivar is a former Texas 4A state XC champ who could have helped the Tigers drastically in 2009 and WILL help them in 2010. If Kiptoo is healthy in 2009, he is probably a top 10 guy at the LSC meet.

Ezekiel Kissorio – Kenya – his brother in the NAIA XC national champ from Oklahoma Christian
Marcus Duran – Madill – OK 4A 4th 1600,
Cale Eidson – Calera, OK – 1st 2A XC, 3-time 2A 1600 champ
Josiah Biles – 10th OK 5A XC, 4th OK 5A 1600
Taylor Ocel – Mansfield – Dist 4-5A 4th 1600, 6th 3200
Cale Prince – Ada, OK – 6th OK 4X800
Taylor Nasu – Chino Hills, CA, Ayala HS
Ricardo Trejo – Oklahoma City Grant HS – soccer player

OUTLOOK: This team should be drastically better than they were in 2009. There should be excellent competition for all 9 spots on the team that runs at conference. My best guess for top 10 runners would be: Sutrick, Kiptoo, Kissorio, Saldivar, Dutton, Duran, Biles, Haun, Eidson, with Henrie and Williams fighting it out for the #9 spot. The top 5 are each capable of running in the top 25 at conference and that could put them in the fight for a top 3 place. I don’t know that I will predict them quite that high, but they are a lot better than their LSC preseason poll pick of 8th!!

EASTERN NEW MEXICO – 3rd 2009; preseason pick of 3rd for 2010

ENMU was the biggest surprise of the 2009 season. A very young team (their team at conference consisted of 1 senior , 3 juniors and 6 freshmen) moved into a strong 3rd spot. They have lost some of their underclassmen for the 2010 season, including Luis Aguirre (22nd), Thomas Martinez (29th) and Mario Portillo (33rd), plus the lone senior, Derek Henio (60th). Those losses of 3 runners from the middle of their pack is the only thing that could prevent ENMU from moving to 2nd. However, as you will see, their new kids should fill those holes.

RETURNEES: Jacob Lozano (11th, plus 6th in the 10K on the track); Richard Kogo (14th, and 9th in the 5K on the track last spring); Logan Robertson (39th), Dustin Francke (41st), Pedro Martinez (40th) and Patrick Lueras (59th, but he ran much better than that place would indicate most of the 2009 season).

Mohammed Noor – Lewiston, ME/Garden City CC – 7th in the JC XC meet last fall, a top JC recruit
Casey Robertson – Columbus, IA/North Iowa Area CC – 13th JC steeple on the track; 42nd JC XC last fall
Salvador Duarte – Hobbs – 8th NM 5A 800
Zachary Fort – Albuquerque Del Norte – 22nd NM 4A XC
Baron Barber – W. Palm Beach, FL – 9th FL Region 4-3A 800
Zerrick Vriseno – Belton – 5th Dist 12-5A 3200
Bretton Villareal – Amarillo Tascosa – Dist 2-5A 4th 1600, 5th 3200
Plus, 4 other HS kids

OUTLOOK: With a top 10 that might include Lozano, Kogo, Noor, Robertson, Martinez, Francke, Robertson, Lueras, Duarte, and Fort, this team appears to be capable to making a legit run at 2nd. We are definitely seeing a huge upswing in this program. I am thrilled to see that ENMU is not bolting from the conference just when they are becoming competitive in cross country and track and field.

INCARNATE WORD – 1st in the Heartland Conf in 2009 and a preseason pick of 5th in 2010

I don’t think that UIW got a fair shake in the preseason picks. They did take a big hit with the graduation of their #1 runner from 2009 – conference champ Shayn Weidner, one of the better runners in the South Central Region. However, he was literally their only loss from last season.

RETURNEES: A solid group of seasoned returnees that include: Howard Gill (3rd in the Heartland meet), Adrian Carrillo (6th), Solomon Rotich (7th), Robert Hawes (9th), Chris Flores (10th), Marcos Gonzales (24th), plus 2 others who ran at conference, but did not figure in the scoring – Hunter Bradshaw and Hilario Coronado. Throw in the return of Juan Perez, who did not run at conference due to injury, but finished 86th in the South Central Regional meet. That is a core of 9 kids who are used to running in big meets.

The top newcomer is only a “half-newcomer” – Sebastian Jaraba-Heffner, from France. He came to UIW at mid-term last year and was a national provisional qualifier in the 800 – a 1:52 halfmiler.
Corey McDonnough, from Port Lavaca Calhoun, is another “half-newcomer” – came last spring and was a solid 1:56 halfmiler – you have to be fast if your HS mascot is the Sand Crabs!
Richard Borchardt - PSJA North – ran 4 meets for TCU in 2009, a pretty good HS runner
Christian Chacon - San Antonio FEAST (the home school team) – won the Northwest ISD Invitational 3200 on the track running against 4A-5A kids
Alex Hernandez – San Antonio Wagner – 4th in the Dist 27-5A 1600-3200

OUTLOOK: A very deep team, with a legit group of 10-11 that includes (roughly in order): Gill, Jaraba-Heffner, Carrillo, Rotich, Hawes, Flores, McDonnough, Perez, Gonzales, and Chacon fighting for a spot with Borchardt and Hernandez. This team will be right there fighting for that 2nd spot behind ACU.

TARLETON STATE – 2nd in 2009; preseason pick of 2nd for 2010

If all of the kids returned who still were eligible, then this team would be right there for 2nd and could give ACU a good battle. BUT, the Texans sustained 3 big hits when Gerzain Valenzuela (4th), Jared McNeil (9th and the former track performer of the year in the LSC in 2009), and Ryan Quezada (18th) did not return. Ouch, it is next to impossible to lose THREE of the top 18 kids in the conference and still remain competitive.

RETURNEES: A solid group that includes Jonathan Kern (19th), Westyn Rosiles (25th), Logan Myner (31st) and Chris Hearell (35th). I think particularly Hearell may see a lot of improvement this season, but not nearly enough firepower to make up the loss of the big 3 of Valenzuela, McNeil and Quezada.

Coleby Borchardt , from Krum – 5th Region II-2A 800; 3rd in that race in 2009
Miles Joslin – Georgetown – 3rd in the Dist 16-5A 1600 in a very strong distance district

OUTLOOK: Tarleton goes to battle with 6 runners in 2010 – ranked roughly as Kern, Rosiles, Myner, Hearell, Borchardt and Joslin. It is a tough assignment to expect either of the freshmen to make up the points lost from last year. I could see Tarleton falling drastically at the conference meet this year.

TAMU-COMMERCE – 7th in 2009; preseason pick of 9th in 2010

With the loss of 4 men who ran for Commerce at the 2009 XC meet, on the surface it would appear that things are bleak for 2010, BUT, the Lions get back their best runner from 2008 and a raft load of new talent, plus a solid core of returnees. Suddenly, the Lions could surprise the conference a bit with a rather competitive team this year. They did lose one extremely talented runner in Tyler Tyndell (7th), along with Gerardo Delafuente (38th), Logan Kelly (57th), and Ray Moreno (65th).

RETURNEES: The Lions get Robert Reed back – 8th in the XC meet in 2008 and 2nd in the 1500 last spring, one of the top distance talents in the LSC; Nathan White (20th), Laurencio Tamayo (58th) and Ross Hicks (63rd). The last three were all freshmen in 2009, so they have the advantage of a year under their belts this season. Plus, throw in that Brandon Womack is back this year – he was 43rd in the LSC XC meet in 2008, but even better, he was 2nd in the LSC 800 on the track last spring.

Trenton Overly – Lone Oak – the 2A state champ in the 800
Everett Wilder – Sulphur Bluff – he was 3rd in the A 3200 in 2009, beating current teammate Tamayo
Raymond Mata – Mansfield Legacy – in District 8-4A, he won the 1600 and was 2nd in the 3200
Alex Kimp – Keller Central – 4th in the very tough 5-5A 3200, he also was 6th in the XC meet before finishing 17th at the Region I-5A XC meet
Tyler Hemenway – Anna – won the District 10-3A 800 and 1600
Benito Villalobos – Wichita Falls – Dist 5-4A 7th 1600, 8th 3200

OUTLOOK: Suddenly, TAMU-Commerce has a very respectable team. A top 10 headlined by Reed would also include White, Womack, Overly, Wilder, Tamayo, Mata, Kimp, Hicks, and Hemenway. In fact, the more I look at this lineup, the more I like it. Much more depth than the past few years. Look for a big jump in respectability from Commerce in 2010.

TAMU-KINGSVILLE – 9th in 2009 and the preseason pick of 10th

The Javelina men’s track team took a HUGE leap in competitiveness in 2009-2010 in the 2nd year for Coach Dall. They scored well in the conference track meet and also scored at the national meet. You can see the team coming around. However, the distance corps for the Hoggies is having a little more challenge becoming competitive. This team is very hard to read, because Coach Dall chose to take his lumps in 2009 in XC and redshirt 6 kids – kids who might have helped him last year. If any of these redshirts step up, this team could be pretty competitive. Kingsville did lose one runner from last year – Daniel Castro, who finished 45th last season.

RETURNEES: The list starts with Kiya Dandena (15th, plus 8th in the LSC 5K on the track); the other returnees are less inspiring – Mario Maldonado (62nd), Marc Escalante (66th), Esteban Lopez (67th) and Chris Garza (69th). The list also includes those 6 redshirts mentioned above: Brett Arredondo, from Kingsville King; Amanuel Belay, from Houston Bellaire; Gregorio Carmona, from LaFeria; David Johnson, from Rockport-Fulton; Alonso Quiroga, from Santa Rosa; and Gilbert Rodriguez, from Wharton. All of them had decent HS credentials – nothing fantastic, but all are runners who placed at their district meets. Plus, add Joshua Prado, who ran for track for Kingsville in 2010, placing 16th in the 800 on the track.

Jose Reyes – Luling – 6th at 3A state in the 1600, District 27-3A champ in the 1600, 3200
Andre Fuqua – Corpus Christi Flour Bluff – 2nd in the Dist 31-4A XC

OUTLOOK: Those redshirts are the wild-card for the Hoggies. I have a hard time coming up with a hard-and-fast top 10, but it might look like this: Dandena (the one certainty on this team), Reyes, Rodriguez, Maldonado, Escalante, Fuqua, Lopez, Garza, Prado and any one of those redshirts. It does appear to be a deeper team than the 2009 version, but not enough firepower in the #2 through #7 spots to get out of the conference cellar.

WEST TEXAS A&M – 6th in 2009 and picked 7th in the preseason poll

WTAMU ran well in 2009 with a young team. They could have easily been picked in the top 4 this year, except that they lost Joey Villareal, one of the top freshmen in the LSC at 17th place, who transferred to South Plains. The Buffaloes also lost Jarret Kachel (52nd). However, they have added some good new people and even a reasonable improvement in their returning runners puts them in the thick of things.

RETURNEES: The top returnee is one of those “half-newcomers” – Luke Irwin. Irwin, from Ontario, came at mid-term of the 2009-2010 school year and made a splash quickly, winning the LSC steeple and getting 5th in the 1500 and 5K last spring. He should be one of the top LSC XC runners. Also returning are Andrew Striley (26th), Thomas Harris (27th), Rolando Vasquez (28th, plus 5th in the 800 on the track), Jarred Murray (47th), Michael Janousek (54th) and Robbie Ness (55th). Throw in some kids who other kids who ran track for WT in 2010 – Taylor Gardner (8th in the LSC 800) and Ray Sparkman (12th in the 800 at the LSC meet) and you have a strong core of returnees.

Jadon Rankins – El Paso Americas – won the Dist 1-5A 1600 and 3200; then just missed the state meet, finishing 4th in the Region I-5A 1600, plus 8th in the 3200
Hayden Hook – Claude – 21st in the Region I-A XC meet

OUTLOOK: This team looks pretty solid, with Irwin in the lead role, followed by Striley, Harris, Vasquez, Rankins, Murray, Ness, Janousek, Gardner. It has the depth that comes from a young team that is maturing. Again, if Villareal does not transfer to SPC, I might be tempted to make them a top 3 team. Still, they will be a good team and will certainly surprise some people.

MY PRESEASON PREDICTION OF FINISH (with LSC preseason picks in parentheses) - this year is tougher than ever. Very little separates #2 from #8 and maybe even #9! The parity is amazing. With the exception of Tarleton and Angelo and possibly ACU, every team will be better than they were in 2009. The 9th place team in 2010 might have been a top 5 team in 2009. That kind of improvement is definitely good for the LSC!

1. ACU (1st) – still a strong team. If just 2-3 of the newcomers step up, this could be a national top-4 team. It is not quite as strong as it was in 2009 and definitely not as strong as 2007-2008.
2. ENMU (3rd) – team just keeps getting better and they have 2 JC kids who could really impact the team this year
3. Incarnate Word (5th) – instant contenders, with a seasoned squad
4. Cameron (4th) – like I said above, they could slide anywhere from 8th to 2nd, a tough team to predict
5. WTAMU (7th) – an up-and-coming team
6. East Central (8th) – no way they crater at conference 2 years in a row
7. Tarleton (2nd) – a good program that appears to be having some bad luck this year – if they have those 3 kids they lost, this team is ranked #2 and is battling ACU
8. Angelo (6th) – another good program that is just a little down this year and this is a bad year to be having a down year!
9. TAMU-C (9th) – good things look like they are on the horizon for the Lions
10. TAMU-K (10th) – overall track program on the upswing and I suspect the XC program will follow in the next 2-3 years

Just like the women, I will check back in after 3 weeks of competition and review who is doing well and who is doing poorly. Preseason polls are tough, since there are so many variables. It only takes 1-2 kids deciding not to enroll or deciding not to run anymore and the poll is obsolete. If I miss these picks badly, I will certainly come up with a good rationalization for my poor predictions! HA!

1 comment:

Blake Perkins said...

Thanks Don! Great work. I enjoyed reading this.

Post a Comment

Lone Star Conference

Angelo State University

Cameron University

Eastern New Mexico University


Texas A&M-Commerce

Tarleton State University

Texas A&M-Kingsville

Texas Woman's College

University of Texas of the Permian Basin

West Texas A&M University

Western New Mexico