2006 Men's And Women's Cross Country Preview

Sept. 7, 2006

Stanford Cross Country opens the 2006 season as a marked target, a position to which the Cardinal has grown accustomed. The Stanford men and women continued a legacy of dominant distance running in 2005, a season that saw a third women's NCAA title and dual Pac-10 championships. Five cross country All-Americans return from the 2005 season, along with 37 returners and five newcomers. Named the 2005 Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year, second-year coach Peter Tegen and his squads will look to defend years of success with one of the most talented groups in Stanford history.

'Improving on previous years' performances is never easy,' said Tegen, 'But it has to be part of the equation when defining goals for the upcoming season. It has been great working so closely with both teams this past year. Now they are back fearless and focused, with an open mind and looking beyond what they have ever done before.'

Men's OutlookAfter losing three key seniors to graduation in 2005, the Cardinal men can boast just one loss from the 2005 squad that finished sixth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Anchored by a solid group of talented and experienced upperclassmen, look for the Stanford men to only improve upon their 2005 accomplishments.

'The Stanford men's team has more upperclassmen than in 2005, and the experience level as well as the overall depth of the team has increased significantly,' Tegen said. 'The excellent track performances in the distances this past spring should translate into improved and consistent cross country racing. There is great leadership coming from several seasoned seniors, making the team solid throughout. Our guys are eager to defend their 2005 Pac-10 title and also be in the mix of contenders for the remaining NCAA championship season.'

Redshirt-junior Neftalem Araia headlines a group of accomplished upperclassmen. Araia has earned All-American honors in both of his NCAA cross country endeavors, placing eighth in 2004 and 11th in 2005, with the Stanford men placing sixth as a team in both competitions. A reliable competitor and team leader, Araia delivers in each race he enters and will inspire his squad to great heights in 2006.

Seniors Jacob Gomez, Brett Gotcher, Jonathan Pierce and Rolf Steier compose the backbone of this year's team. Each has achieved success in the cross country and track postseasons and is ready to elevate the Cardinal to a higher level in 2006. An athlete with great range, Gomez earned the 2006 indoor conference title in the 3,000 meters and later gained his first All-American honor in the event at the NCAA Championships. Competing at the NCAA outdoor championships for the third-straight year in the 10,000 meters last season, Gotcher earned his first All-American honor with a 12th-place finish. Gotcher also turned in 10th and 11th-place finishes at the 2005 Pac-10 and West Regional championships. A runner who has contributed to multiple Cardinal championships, Pierce earned his first All-American honor during the 2006 outdoor season after finishing seventh in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Pierce was also a scorer for both of Stanford's sixth-place NCAA finishes in cross country. Steier battled back from a series of injuries early in his career to gain All-American status in the 1,500 meters at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Steier and the rest of the senior class have gained extensive experience at the championship level and are capable of guiding the Cardinal to another successful cross country campaign.

Returners Hakon DeVries, Garrett Heath, Lauren Jespersen, John McGuire, Hari Mix and Forrest Tahdooahnippah will provide the necessary depth Stanford needs in 2006. DeVries earned his first All-American honor with a 13th-place finish in the 5,000 meters at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships, also recording two top-five finishes earlier in the year during cross country. Heath earned a top-25 finish at the 2005 NCAA West Regional and later gained All-American honors as a member of Stanford's eighth-place distance medley relay team at the indoor national championship. An NCAA qualifier in the mile during indoor track, Jespersen also recorded a sixth-place finish in the 4,000 meters at the Stanford Invite. McGuire made an immediate impact as a true freshman in 2005, helping the Cardinal to runner-up and sixth-place finishes at the West Regional and NCAA championships, respectively. A long distance specialist, Mix qualified for the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 10,000 meters and notched two post-season finishes for the Cardinal last season in cross country. Tahdooahnippah also logged solid performances for the Cardinal at the 2004 and 2005 Pac-10 cross country championships. These six experienced returners will bolster a talented Stanford squad.

Middle distance specialists, indoor and outdoor track All-Americans Russell Brown, Joaquin Chapa and Michael Garcia will provide talented depth for the Cardinal. Jacob Evans, Chris Mocko, Kevin Bickham, Eric Giddings and Alex Greenburg also gained valuable experience in 2005 and are ready to contribute this season.

Stanford adds two talented newcomers to the mix in freshmen Steven Duplinsky and Justin Marpole-Bird. An accomplished competitor with international experience in distance running as well as the triathlon, Duplinsky comes to Stanford with two Maryland/Virginia/D.C. private school cross country championships and 2005 ITU U-20 World Triathlon title. Hailing from Vancouver, B.C, Marpole-Bird has captured 1,500 and 3,000 meter B.C. high school championships and qualified for the World Junior Track & Field Championships last summer in Beijing, China.

Women's OutlookWith every runner returning from the 2005 national championship squad, and three talented newcomers joining the ranks, the Stanford women are poised for another successful season in 2006. The Cardinal will rely on an experienced group of upperclassmen to defend last year's undefeated season.

'As the defending national champion and undefeated throughout 2005, our women's team will be somewhat marked by the competition' said Tegen. 'Repeating an NCAA championship may be more challenging than winning one in the first place. However, the Stanford ladies will be back in full force without losing any of their teammates. It will take some careful planning and a measured approach to competing throughout the season in order to contend for the title again. I know our ladies are ready for the challenge.'

Senior All-Americans Katy Trotter and Amanda Trotter, as well as red-shirt junior All-Americans Arianna Lambie and Teresa McWalters are a feared pack after accumulating two national titles, three NCAA West Region titles and three Pac-10 Championships during their first three years on The Farm. Lambie was Stanford's highest finisher at the 2005 NCAA Championship, placing eighth to gain All-American honors. A six-time All-American in cross country, indoor and outdoor track, this year's squad will rely on Lambie's experience to lead them to another championship season. A reliable duo, Katy and Amanda Trotter haven't missed a cross country race during their time on The Farm. Katy earned her second cross country All-American honor after finishing 20th in 2005, while Amanda has earned top-10 finishes at the conference and regional levels and is ready to have a standout senior campaign. The 2004 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year, McWalters has proven to be a valuable component to Stanford's success, with fourth and fifth place finishes at the 2005 Pac-10 and West Regional races respectively. With the experience and talent these four provide, the Cardinal will be a heavy favorite to repeat its successful 2005 season.

Add additional All-Americans Lauren Centrowitz and Lindsay Flacks to the mix, and the Cardinal boasts an unstoppable squad. A junior specializing in middle distances on the track, Centrowitz proved she can go the distance with a 47th place finish and All-American honor at the 2005 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Flacks made an immediate impact in the long distances when she came to The Farm, but added her first All-American honor after she finished 25th at cross country nationals in 2005, Stanford's third runner at the event.

Seven other key returners will provide essential depth for the Cardinal in 2006, including redshirt-sophomore Katie Harrington, sophomore Alicia Follmar, juniors Lindsay Allen and Shannon Bergstedt, senior Leah Sawyer, sophomore Mary Liz McCurdy and redshirt-freshman Maddy O'Meara. Harrington was Stanford's sixth finisher at the 2005 NCAA Championships in her first cross country season, with additional experience as a regional qualifier and Pac-10 scorer in the long distances in track. Ranked fourth all-time on the Freshman Top-Five list for the 800 meters, Follmar proved to be a valuable asset in cross country as she finished fourth in the Stanford Invite 4,000 meters and 28th at the Pac-10 Championships. After gaining post-season racing experience, look for Harrington and Follmar to improve in 2006.

A steeplechase specialist, Allen contributed a sixth-place finish in the Stanford Invite 4,000 meters and a 29th-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships. Bergstedt also tallied two top-10 performances at the Stanford Invite and Pre-NCAA Open, while Sawyer, a long distance specialist, logged key finishes at the Stanford and USF Invitationals. Allen, Bergstedt and Sawyer will all provide necessary depth to a talented team. McCurdy saw limited action in 2005, but nabbed a top-25 finish at the Murray Keating Invitational. O'Meara redshirted the 2005 cross country season, but gained valuable racing experience during outdoor track and will be ready to compete for the Cardinal in 2006. With six returning All-Americans backed by an experienced and talented core, the Cardinal will race with more depth than has been seen in recent seasons.

The Cardinal boasts another exciting group of recruits in 2006, including Kate Niehaus, Anne St. Geme and Kelsey Walker. Niehaus has an exciting list of track accomplishments, including four All-American honors, but also holds the South Carolina cross country record. The daughter of Stanford all-time great Ceci Hopp, St. Geme has collected some impressive accomplishments, including multiple CIF and California cross country championships, as well as anchoring the 2006 Nike Outdoor championship distance medley relay team. Walker also comes to Stanford with multiple accolades, including four state championships in track.

With such a deep and highly accomplished squad, Tegen is excited to start the 2006 season on September 9 at UC Davis:

'We are going to pace ourselves and approach the season like a long race, getting ready for the bell lap. I think we are on the right track, because all I see is excitement and enthusiasm.'

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