Friday, October 19, 2012

        LSC Cross Country Championship  Predictions – 2012


                                             by  Don Garrett


WOMEN – this race appears to still be about a very deep and talented Midwestern squad leading the way, with West Texas A&M, Angelo State and Tarleton all improving a bit from last year to close the gap on MSU. Remember that in XC, the LOWER the score the better and that only the top 5 finishers for each school count in tabulating the scoring. Most of the conference teams this year will actually bring 9 or even 10 women to the meet, but only the top 5 figure in the scoring. This is how I see it going, with a predicted scoring range, plus last year’s place and score and the expected women who will represent that school, ranked by team order:

1.    Midwestern – scoring in the 40-50 point range (last year they were 1st with 43 points) – 1) Ashley Flores (6th in 2011); 2) Janel Campbell (8th in 2011); 3) Michelle Krezonoski (12th in 2011); 4) Kim Krezonoski (16th in 2011); 5) Brittany Adams (freshman); 6) Abigail Gonzales (JC transfer); 7) Tylo Farrar (freshman); 8) Maira Salinas (freshman) and 9/10) from a group that includes Alex  Kohrs (freshman), Nadia Majed (graduate student-transfer), Ana Lopez (freshman), Cara Mack (16th in the 2010 race) – MSU lost the conference champ from 2011 and yet, they have barely missed a beat. They are seeing improvement from upperclassmen Flores, Campbell and the Krezonoski twins, plus strong contributions from freshmen Adams, Farrar, Salinas, Kohrs and Lopez. Any of their freshman would probably be top 7 and maybe top 5 for any other LSC school.

2.    West Texas A&M – scoring in the 55-70 point range (last year they were 2nd with 87 points) – 1) Mireia Guarner (freshman); 2) Brenda Sindet (20th in 2011); 3rd Amber Moore (20th in 2011); 4) Emma Love (19th in 2011); 5) Jessica Blakely (60th in 2011); 6) Haley Sparks (38th in 2011); 7) Taylor Sparks (RS in 2011); 8) Cristian Saladrich (freshman); and 9th Rhemecka Graham (RS in 2011) – top contender for the newcomer of the year in Spanish freshman Guarner and WT is getting improved production from Sindet, Moore, Love and Blakely (particularly Sindet, who could be a top 5 candidate if she figures out how good she could be). The key could be getting a highly competitive 5th place from Blakely or possibly even the other Spanish freshman, Saladrich, who has been a bit disappointing thus far this season.

3.    Angelo State – scoring in the 85-100 point range (last year they were 3rd with 103 points) – 1) Emeline Crutcher (4th last year); 2) Annifer Flores (25th last year); 3) Sofia Ramos (27th in 2011); 4) Chastity King (freshman); 5) Jessica Boudreau (26th last year); 6) Kami Orsak (35th in 2011); 7) Katy Williams (28th in 2011); and 8) transfer Colleen Adams – for the 4th straight year, Crutcher is their top runner. Angelo has seen excellent improvement this year from Flores and Ramos, plus a solid addition in freshman King, who is from tiny Zephyr, TX. If they get a strong 5th place finish from Boudreau, Orsak or Williams, they could conceivably move up to 2nd place.

4.    Tarleton State – scoring in the 95-110 point range (last year they were 6th with 124 points) – 1) Celeste Myer (17th in 2011); 2) Katelin Huckabee (freshman); 3) Karen Ramming (15th in 2011); 4) Lauren Finley (RS in 2011); 5) Kyndal Trnka (48th in 2011); 6) Ashley Husbands (47th last year); and Payton Shoush (40th in 2011) – for some reason, their best runner Lindsey Hinton (10th last year and one of the top runners on the track in the LSC) is redshirting – she has run several meets unattached. Still TSU is getting good leadership from Myer and Ramming and freshman Huckabee (from Belton) is looking like one of the better freshmen in the conference. Payton Shoush, one of the top halfmilers in the LSC, has not been able to successfully transition to the longer XC distances, but that is not unusual for collegiate halfmilers. If TSU gets a good races from the improving redshirt freshman Finley and returnees Trnka or Husbands, they could challenge for a top 3 team finish.

5.    Incarnate Word – scoring in the 120-135 range (last year they were 7th with 130 points) – 1) Stephanie Glatt (45th in 2011); 2) Irma Garza (22nd last year); 3) Marine Vaillant (transfer from France); 4) Adriana Garcia (freshman); 5) Emma Jewell (14th); 6) Candida Chairez (freshman); 7) Christina (Rainy) Castaneda (freshman); 8) Alyson Gonzales (63rd last year); 9) from a group comprised of Katlyn Savage (freshman); Lindsay Frost (freshman) and Jackie Arnold (RS in 2011) – UIW has some solid new freshmen in Garcia, Chairez, Castaneda, Savage and Frost. Glatt has improved drastically over 2011 and Garza is having a good year. The key may be getting good races from Jewell (who was All-LSC in 2011, but has not run at that level this year) and the French transfer Vaillant, who ran extremely well in their first race of the year, but not so well in the most recent races.

6.    Eastern New Mexico – scoring in the 125-140 point range (last year they were 5th with 111 points) – 1) Brittany Buchanan (36th in 2011); 2) Amber Saiz (freshman); 3) Sabrina Huelga (24th in 2011)l 4) Adrienne Montoya (13th last year); 5) Alesha Jones (35th last year); 6) Andrea Whittmann (freshman); 7) Beth Blind (33rd in 2011); 8) Leigh Ann Omarkhail (36th in 2011); and possibly both freshmen Jherica Rhodes and Farrah Hood – this team has much more depth than in 2011, but they are missing a top 10 leader like Nickie Reid. That leader could be 2-time all-LSC runner Montoya, who has not run well this season. Freshman Saiz is looking like a future all-conference type of talent and both Buchanan and Huelga look improved over 2011. ENMU also needs a strong 5th place run from Jones, Blind, Omarkhail or freshman Whittmann and they could move up a spot or two.

7.    ACU – scoring in the 140-155 range (last year they were 4th with 106 points) – 1) Alyse Goldsmith (3rd in 2011); 2) Ayesha Rumble (18th in 2011); 3) Mariah Welty-Kile (29th last year); 4) Emily Hill (59th last year); 5) Oksana Hays (RS in 2011); 6) Rachel Belcher (67th in 2011); and 7) Kayla Calvert (former pole vaulter switching over to distance) – alarming lack of depth puts a huge burden on top runner Goldsmith. Will be very dependent on halfmilers Rumble, Welty-Kile and Hill to competitively run the longer 6K XC distance. Getting Hays back (she ran in 2010) will help. Being without a distance coach all summer really hurt ACU, since the addition of even 1 top distance runner could move them up in the standings dramatically.

8.    TAMU-Kingsville – scoring in the 190-210 range (last year they were 8th with 225 points) – 1) Brianna Villareal (43rd in 2011); 2) Rebekah Jiminez (39th last year); 3) Marissa Acosta (41st in 2011); 4) Marisa Reyes (RS in 2011); 5) Danica Huerta (RS – 2011); 6) Anna Richburg (64th last year); 7) Tezna Roy (RS – 2011); 8) Victoria Bankes (freshman); Janae Lewis (freshman) – this team is actually better than in 2011 almost across the board and they should definitely improve their score from last year significantly. Villareal, Jiminez, and Acosta are improved over last year and Reyes, Huerta and Roy are running pretty well after redshirt years in XC. The Lady Javs still need that one really good leader, someone who is top 15 in conference, to really move up in the standings.

9.    TAMU-Commerce – scoring in the 190-201 range (last year they were 9th with 251 points) – 1) Caroline Cotsakis (61st in 2011); 2) Tori Lenz-Selvera (freshman); 3) Mary Hammonds (freshman); 4) Jennifer Speer (54th last year); 5) Katia Romero (freshman); 6) Mackenzie Myers (freshman);  7) Brooke Farris (37th in 2011); 8) Kendall Christmas (65th last year); 9) Julieta Esquivel – JC transfer) -  because of the difficult year the Lady Lions experienced in 2011, they could be much better than last year and still finish in last place. They certainly appear to be much improved over last year. They have much better depth. Cotsakis appears to be improved over 2011. Freshmen Lenz-Selvera, Hammonds, Romero, and Myers all have the potential to be top-50 finishers this first year. Commerce needs to have a good race from Farris, who was their top finisher in 2011, but has been running 6th to 8th for them all this season.

MEN – ENMU appears to be the class of this year’s race, with Tarleton, TAMU-Commerce and West Texas not terribly far behind. After that first tier of 4 teams, there is a definite dropoff to Angelo, ACU, Cameron, Incarnate Word and TAMU-Kingsville. I really don’t see any team that can make a run at ENMU, who last year broke ACU’s string of over 20 consecutive LSC XC championships.

1.    ENMU – scoring in the 45-60 point range (1st in 2011, with 28 points) – 1) Isaiah Samoei (the defending LSC champ); 2) Kevin Roa (JC transfer); 3) Tyler Saiz (6th in 2011); 4) Kaspars Briska (JC transfer); 5) Trevor Merhege (48th last year); 6) Patrick Lueras (27th in 2011); 7) Marquez Hobson (JC transfer); 8) Zerrick Vriseno (did not run conference in 2011); 9) and 10) some combination of Irwin Vera (did not run conference in 2011), Cody Bodine (freshman); David Blackmer (freshman) and Zach Fort (did not run conference in 2011) – Samoei is the best distance runner in the LSC. JC transfers Roa, Briska, and Hobson are good hands, but not quite as good as the runners they replaced from 2011. Saiz is one of the best young runners in the LSC and Merhege has run well this season after a poor showing at the LSC XC meet last year. Seasoned runners Lueras and Vriseno should also help. This team is not as dominant as in 2011, but still should be plenty deep enough to win it.

2.    Tarleton – scoring in the 80-95 point range, but only if Tye Doty runs (a very disappointing 6th in 2011 with 153 points) – 1) Tye Doty (18th last year); 2) Chase Rathke (13th in 2011); 3) Dylan Willet (freshman); 4) James Polasek (freshman); 5) Miles Joslin (20th in 2011); 6) Jeffrey Currie (freshman); 7) Thorne Pettigrew (freshman); 8) Mason Wrobel (freshman); 9) and 10) from a group of Brian Cooper (73rd last year);  Jacob Wilson (freshman) and Stefan Campos (RS-2011) – TSU starts with a solid group of all-conference caliber runners in Doty (who has run one meet unattached and did not run at all in one other meet this season), Rathke, and Joslin, then add the top crop of new freshmen of any team in the LSC in Willet, Polasek, Currie, Pettigrew and Wrobel. Not a senior in the bunch on a team that appears be on the upswing in a big way.

3.    TAMU-Commerce – scoring 85-100 points, in a tight 3-way race for 2nd (3rd in 2011 with 99 points) – 1) Dorian McCradic (freshman); 2) Everett Wilder (15th last year); 3) Fredric Kipsang (25th last year); 4) Alex Kimp (22nd in 2011); 5) Elias Garcia (freshman); 6) Raymond Mata (23rd last year); 7) Ross Hicks (35th in 2011); 8) Luis Romero (freshman); 9) Tyler Hemenway (65th last year) – if Isaac Chelimo (14th in 2011) was still on the roster, I would pick them 2nd overall. They are getting upperclassman-like leadership from freshman McCradic, as well as solid contributions from freshman Garcia. Wilder is a proven all-conference kid and Kimp and Mata were not too far off a top-15 finish last year. The Lions need a good race from Kipsang to seal the deal on 2nd place.

4.    West Texas A&M – scoring 85-100 points, the 3rd team in a tight race for 2nd place overall that may be decided by 3-5 points (5th last year, with 149 points) – 1) Dylan Doss (7th in 2011); 2) Baptiste Moreu (French transfer); 3) Patrick Scheuchzer (37th in 2011); 4) Lucas Marquez (freshman); 5) Alexander Korn (46th last year); 6) Martin Puga (67th); 7) Hugo Aguinaga (JC transfer); 8) Jonathan (Alex) Flores (JC transfer); 9) Merritt Vaughn (freshman) – Doss is the leader of this team, but the Frenchmen Moreu should help a lot. Freshman Marquez is looking like a future conference all-conference contender. If WT gets a good race from the Swiss runner Scheuchzer, the German runner Korn, Puga, or one of the JC transfers (Aguinaga or Flores), they could sweep into 2nd place.

5.    Angelo State – scoring 150-175 points (they were 4th with 143 points in 2011) – 1) Dylan Littlejohn (32nd in 2011); 2) Jamin Goecker (43rd last year); 3) Tomas Callejas (39th in 2011); 4) Josh Day (freshman); 5) Graham Hazlewood (freshman); 6) Isac Valdez (41st last year); 7) Anthony Rabaey (freshman) – ASU suffers from a lack of depth, but Littlejohn, Goecker, and Callejas are running better than in 2011 and freshmen Day and Hazlewood are pretty solid freshmen. If any of their freshmen run like freshmen, they could still fall a place or 2, but they appear to be a solid middle-of-the-pack team.

6.    ACU – scoring 175-190 points (they were 2nd in 2011 with 68 points – 1) Xavier King (freshman); 2) Erik Forrister (16th in 2011); 3) James Grantham (63rd last year; 4) Gary Duncan (51st in 2011); 5) Banjo Jaiyesimi (did not run XC conference in 2011); 6) Taylor Ochs (freshman); 7) Christopher John (freshman) – freshman King is a potential freshman of the year and Forrister just missed all-LSC by one place last year. There is a big dropoff to Grantham, Duncan and Jaiyesimi (an excellent half-miler who is finding it difficult to move up to 8K, which is 4.8 miles). Freshmen walkons Ochs and John are game, but not up to LSC competitive level yet. A poor 5th place finish could doom ACU to an even lower finish.

7.    Cameron – scoring 185-200 points (they were 8th in 2011 with 151 points) – 1) Thomas Toth (transfer from Canada); 2) Cody Campbell (freshman); 3) Janis Pastars (transfer from Lativa); 4) Moses Kipkosgei (55th last year); 5) Tyler Jacobs (60th in 2011); 6) Grant Wignall (freshman); 7) Corban Marcantel (freshman); 8) Cole Atchison (freshman) – always tough to judge Cameron, made up this year by international transfers (Toth and Pastars), 2 returnees (Kipkosgei and Jacobs) and a group of freshman with promise, particularly Campbell, but including Wignall, Marcantel, and Atchison.  They could leapfrog ACU with a good performance from their freshmen.

8.    Incarnate Word – scoring 185-200 (they were 9th with 180 points last year) – 1) Marcos Mora (71st last year); 2) Alex Hernandez (58th in 2011); 3) Caleb Gutierrez (freshman); 4) Sebastian Benavides (Tr from Pan Am); 5) Solomon Rotich (21st last year); 6) Javier Salas (freshman); 7) Brandon Hernandez (freshman); 8) Nathan Sosa (76th in 2011); 9) Christian Chacon (47th in 2011) – Mora looks highly improved this year, as does Hernandez. A good group of freshman headlined by Gutierrez and including Salas and Hernandez. The key to UIW moving up 1-2 places will be a good run from Rotich, who has not had a good season to date.

9.    TAMU-Kingsville – scoring 210-230 points (they were 7th in 2011 with 155 points, largely due to the 2nd place finish of the graduated Kiya Dandena) – 1) Michael Idziak (freshman); 2)  Josh Prado (57th in 2011); 3) Patrick Alexshonis (freshman); 4) Emanuel Ibanez (freshman); 5) Calvin Scharf (70th last year); 6) Chris Garza (72nd in 2011); 7) Kaleb Neptune (RS in 2011); 8) Andrew Rivas (56th in 2011); 9) Ty Ramos (freshman); 10) Richard Hernandez (freshman) – this is a freshman-heavy team, with Idziak looking like an all-LSC contender and Alexshonis, Ibanez, Ramos and Hernandez adding depth. If Prado and particularly Scharf and Garza improve from last year, the Javelinas could contend to move up a few spots.

The meet kicks off on Saturday, with the men at 9:30 and the women following at 10:30. The weather forecast is for a warmish mid-to-lower 70’s, but all of these kids are used to warm weather distance running.  I watched the video on the LSC website of the Cameron coach, former Cameron runner Casey Kreger, and he said that the course is very flat and therefore, should be very fast. Best wishes to every runner and may the best teams win.


   



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