LSC Cross Country Championships Predictions - Don Garrett, LSC Scoop Cross Country Expert
The LSC XC meet is on Saturday, November 6 in Abilene. I have been watching the LSC teams very closely this year and frankly, I am more confused than ever about my predictions. As always some teams have been disappointing and some teams have made quantum leaps forward. I still think that Midwestern on the women’s side and ACU on the men’s side are the odds-on favorites in their races and behind them is muddled mess, with more parity than I can ever remember. That actually makes for good team competition when moving up one or two places in the final few yards may make the difference between your team finishing in 2nd or finishing in 4th. I am really looking forward to watching these 2 races this coming Saturday.
WOMEN – I will include the projected 7-10 runners I think will represent the schools, roughly in the order of how I expect them to run for their teams
1. Midwestern – Brissia Montalvo (TR), Sydney Cole, Lindsay Pate, Heather Owens, Ashley Flores (FR), Janel Campbell (FR), Cara Mack (FR), Melody Caldwell, Bailey Dulaney – MSU already had the strongest group of returnees prior to the season and they added the strongest recruiting class to that returning core. You have the defending LSC champ (Cole) running #2 behind transfer Montalvo - that tells you how good this team is.
2. Angelo State – Emeline Crutcher, Jessica Boudreau, Andria Nussey, Kelsey Merritt (FR), Alyssa Priest, Katy Williams (FR), Sofia Ramos (FR), Kami Orsak, Jenifer Flanery, April Williams – ASU is team with a strong returning core supplemented by three outstanding freshmen. Then, last week I see Andria Nussey show up in the results and she is one of the toughest kids I have ever seen in the LSC. The Rambelles won’t surprise anyone this year when they finish a strong 2nd.
3. Eastern New Mexico – Adrienne Montoya (FR), Nicky Reid, Jerri Martin, Theresa Chacon, Danielle Jones, Brittany Buchanan (FR), Samantha Draper, Linda Vicario (FR), Megan Bryant, Nicole Blackwell – freshman Montoya has changed this team for the better, fighting all year with Reid for the top spot. ENMU is the surprise team of the year on the women’s side, a team drastically improved over 2009.
4. ACU – Anais Belledant (TR), Chloe Susset, Alyse Goldsmith (TR), Sally Hays (FR), Oksana Hays (FR), Greta Porisch (FR), Rachel Belcher (FR) – only one returnee from last year’s terribly disappointing 8th place finish. The top 3 are very strong – all contenders for a top 15 finish. This team will move up or down in the team race based on the performance of the 4 freshmen who comprise spots #4-#7 for the Wildcats.
5. Incarnate Word – Marie Troufflard, Bailey Loyd (RS-FR), Alma Santos, Stephanie Glatt, Alison Gonzales, Danielle delaPaz (FR), Megan Hoff, Celeste Dunlap (TR), Alana Almirudis (FR) – could finish higher, but they have not performed up to my expectations – they just seem a little bit “off” in their performances all season.
6. West Texas A&M – Aries Bazaldua, Jessica Blakely, Allie Reyna, Amber Moore (FR), Brieanna Garcia, Allison Medina – lack of depth will kill WT if even one girl runs a poor race. It does look to me like Bazaldua (who is capable of a top-10 finish) is coming around late in the year.
7. Central Oklahoma – Alina Istrate, Julie Crocker, Katie Kerns (FR), Tess Lackey (FR), Angelica Martinez, Chelse Elam (FR), Angel Vick – this team has mystifies me. If Istrate has a great race, they should move up. Their top runner from 2009, Cara Cox, is on the roster, but has not run this season. If everyone runs at conference, including Cox, then this team is picked far too low. If Istrate is not at 100% and Cox ends up redshirting the entire season, then they could drop lower than 7th.
8. East Central – Hayley Jennings, Miranda Claxton, Samantha Bartlett, Andrea McKinney, Jordan Earle (TR), Carina Clemente, Rachel Pratt, Caroline Masai (TR) – this team is getting too little boost from their newcomers.
9. Tarleton State – Katherine Grillo, Rhyland Pittenger, Vanessa Elizondo-Martinez, Ashley Husbands (FR), Payton Shoush (FR), Morgan Reed (FR), Kyndell Trnka, Celeste Myer (FR), Melissa Lewis (FR) – TSU is getting some production from their freshman, particularly Husbands, but their returnees have not been producing – not sure if they might have been injured, particularly Grillo and Elizondo-Martinez.
10. Southwestern Oklahoma – Chelsey Dillon, Melissa Banks, Jennifer Osbourne (new – has attended school at SWO for the past 2 years), Carissa Curtis, Kelly Quimby (FR), Sarah Hix, Micah Mathis – their top hand, Dillon, has not run the past 2 meets. I doubt if they can finish as high as 10th if she is unable to compete.
11. TAMU-Kingsville – Marissa Acosta (FR), Brianna Villareal (FR), Ashley Nunez (RS-FR), Rowena Trevino (RS-SO), Danica Huerta (FR), Tezna Roy (FR), Crystal Avalos (RS-FR) – what do all 7 young women have in common? They did not run for Kingsville in 2009. This is a whole new team and they have been getting steadily better all season.
12. TAMU-Commerce – Carolyn Bell (TR), Kate Donovan, Jennifer Speer , Megan Lara (FR), Rachel Biggers (FR), Janice Hays, Taquila Palmer (FR) – lots of new team members and one of their best, Lara, does not even appear on the website roster – must have been a very late addition. This group might even be a little better than expected, but I don’t see them moving up more than a place or two, if at all.
13. Southeast Oklahoma – Allison Keatts (FR), Rachel Brunk, Jessica Beames, Kenna Chaffin (FR), Ashley Fawks – all five ladies have run every meet thus far this season, so there is a good chance that they will field enough competitors to count as a team at conference, unlike last year when only 3 from their team ran.
MEN – again, with the approximate line-up of runners to expect at conference
1. ACU – Amos Sang, Cleophas Tanui, Romain Rybicki, Will Pike, Jake Schofield, Erik Forrister (FR), Will Mack (FR), Josh Taylor (FR), Gary Duncan (FR), Soren Thompson (FR) – Sang and Tanui should be right at the front (top 5). Good group of freshmen are the hope of the future for ACU, whose top 3 are all seniors. The biggest surprise could come from Taylor, who ran exceptionally well at the last meet.
2. East Central – Ezekiel Kissorio (TR), Daniel Kiptoo (Injury RS in 2009), Armando Saldivar (TR), Cale Eidson (FR), Joel Dutton, Austin Christian, Mitchell Haun, Stefan Terrell, Hunter Henrie, Taylor Ocel (FR), Josiah Biles (FR), Carl Williams – this year’s big surprise team. Their top 4 did not run for ECU in 2010. The race for 2nd with ENMU, Incarnate Word, Cameron, West Texas A&M and Tarleton will be fierce, there is very little difference between the #2 and #7 teams in the LSC. If even one key runner moves way up and way down, a team could move 2-3 places quickly.
3. Eastern New Mexico – Mohammed Noor (TR), Casey Robertson (TR), Richard Kogo, Jacob Lozano, Pedro Martinez, Patrick Lueras, Zerrick Vriseno (FR), Justin Netcher, Brett Villareal (FR), Kris Cogswell (FR), Sal Duarte (FR), Dustin Francke, Zach Fort (FR) – ENMU could use any of 13 runners and not see a lot of difference between their #6 through #13 runners. ENMU was third last year and has a team that is much better than 2009, with 2 excellent transfers. The only reason I don’t pick them 2nd is the great strides that ECU has made.
4. Incarnate Word – Howard Gill, Adrian Carrillo, Solomon Rotich, Juan Perez, Christian Chacon (FR), Sebastian Jaraba-Heffner (TR), Hilario Coronado, Alex Hernandez (FR), Richard Borchardt (TR), Hunter Bradshaw, Chris Flores, Luke Wempe (FR) – a seasoned squad that has gotten decent production from their newcomers. Should be in the hunt for a top 3 finish.
5. Cameron – Julius Korir, Mohamed Khelalfa, Moses Kipkosgei (TR), Juan Ruiz, Brian Mulwo (TR), Eli Hernandiz (FR), Aaron Gill (RS-FR), Tyler Nelson (FR), Marcus Trevino (FR), Ben Rupert (FR) – always a question with Cameron who will actually run, their lineups varied each week this season. Korir did not show up until a few weeks ago. If he is healthy and runs up to capability, this team could also contend for a top 3 finish.
6. West Texas A&M – Luke Irwin (TR), Thomas Harris, Rolando Vasquez, Andrew Striley, Jadon Rankins (FR), Michael Janousek, Jarred Murray, Hayden Hook (FR), Ray Sparkman – for some reason Irwin did not run in their last meet, but he ran unattached a week later. The freshman Rankins would also help a lot, but he has not run the last meet or two for WT. I have always liked Harris – a tough kid who seems to fight for every inch he can get.
7. Tarleton State – Westyn Rosiles, Logan Mynar, Chris Hearell, Miles Joslin (FR), Brian Cooper (FR), Coleby Borchardt (FR) – defections just before the season began hurt this team and reduced their depth to nil. Rosiles is one of the top 5 in the conference, but there is a huge gap between the #4 and #5 runners – a gap of about 3 ½ minutes in their last race. That kind of gap will kill you at conference.
8. Angelo State – Robert Hummingbird, Randall Guinn, Isac Valdez, Nick Wargo, Cody Rodela (FR), Josh Tolentino (TR), Clint Bippert – again, a lack of depth has been deadly to Angelo and unlike Tarleton, they do not have a front-of-the-pack guy on whom to lean. Angelo’s top 5 guys run nearly in a pack, but lacking that one stud runner will hurt them at conference.
9. TAMU-Kingville – Kiya Dandena, Esteban Lopez, Manny Belay (FR), Chris Garza, Josh Prado (RS-FR), Andre Fuqua (FR), Greg Carmona (RS-FR) – the same 7 runners have run virtually every week, led by Dandena – a legit contender for top 5 honors. Team is much improved over 2009.
10. TAMU-Commerce – Cody Hughes, Robert Reed, Everett Wilder (FR), Raman Singh (TR), Raymond Mata (FR), Alex Kimp (FR), Tyler Hemenway (FR), Ross Hicks – a lot of good young runners, but I was about to write off 2010 as a learning year for Commerce, UNTIL Hughes suddenly showed up again in the last 2 races. Hughes had a great spring in 2009, finishing 2nd in the LSC 5K on the track, then disappeared off the face of the earth for all of 2009-2010 and then for the 2010 XC season until 2 meets ago. With Hughes and Reed at the top and decent production for their youngsters, this team could move up several places, possibly even as high as 5th or 6th.
This is as balanced as I have seen the men’s race in a few years. ACU is not quite as dominant, although they are still the favorites. The difference between all of the other teams is simply not that huge. There could be considerable movement among the teams – teams moving up or down 2, 3, even 4 places from my predictions, making my predictions look pretty stupid. I will blame it on parity before the race even begins.