Pac-12 Cross Country Team Previews
With two new teams joining the Conference and a combined nine men's and women's teams ranked in the preseason, the 2011 Pac-12 cross country campaign looks to be a challenging and exciting one, with the year culminating at the Pac-12 Men's & Women's Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Oct. 29 in Phoenix, Ariz.
• 2010 NCAA runner-up Stephen Sambu returns for his senior season and leads the Arizona men's squad. Also the runner-up in the NCAA West Region, Sambu was a 2010 All-American and finished fifth at the Pac-10 Championships.
• Lawi Lalang, who joined the team in January, will be a freshman in cross country this season. He was the 2011 MPSF Indoor Champion at 3,000 meters and the 2011 Pac-10 Outdoor Champion at 5,000 meters.
• The Wildcats welcome five new runners to the team for 2011.
• All but one graduated senior returns to the roster for the Arizona women's squad in 2011, the same team that won the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational then went on to earn a runner-up finish at the 2010 Pac-10 Championships. The team is led by junior Jennifer Bergman and a solid class of five juniors.
• Bergman finished seventh at the 2010 Pac-10 Championships and went on to finish third in the 10,000 meters at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
• The Wildcats will welcome seven new runners to the team for 2011.
Arizona State Sun Devils
• Three seniors and four juniors will look to lead the way on a roster of 18 runners that includes eight freshman (four true and four redshirt) and three sophomores.
• Ben Engelhardt (51st at 2010 NCAA XC) has graduated, so juniors Darius Terry and Nick Happe look to lead the Arizona State men this season. Terry is coming off an outdoor track season in which he was the first-ever All-American at 1,500 meter in ASU men's history, the only event, prior to the 2011 season, that ASU had never had an All-American outdoors.
• Since taking over the program as its head coach in 2004, Louie Quintana has coached both the men and women (eight seasons). But, starting this season, he will work with only the men's team and has handed the women's team to Ryan Cole, who is entering his fifth year with the program.
• ASU women are going to be young in many ways this year. Half of the roster (8-of-16) are true freshman with only 6-of-16 having competed for ASU during their time in Tempe. Lindsay Prescott was the team's top performer last year, finishing as the team's top runner in every meet she ran, including 10th at the Pac-10 Championships for her first All-Pac-10 honor.
• Freshman Shelby Houlihan won five state titles as a high school senior with her versatility, including 400 meter, 800 meter, 1500 meter and 4x400 meter relay on the track after, also winning the 5,000 meter cross country state title earlier in the year. She holds the state record in the 800m, 1500m and with the 4x400m and distance medley relays.
California Golden Bears
• The Golden Bears will look to first team all-conference performer Michael Coe to set the pace in 2011. Coe placed sixth overall at the Conference meet and led the Bears to a third-place team finish.
• Senior Maxime Chevee will also be expected to lead a squad that boasts a large and talented freshman class. Chevee was an all-west region selection last season.
• Deborah Maier is the only Cal woman to ever win all-conference honors and has done so twice in her career, including last year after coming in third place at the Conference meet, the only Golden Bear to finish in the top-25. She returns for her final campaign and looks to build on a junior season which saw her earn All-America honors.
• Six of Cal's top seven from 2010 are back from a squad that spent most of the past season ranked among the country's top 30 and placed fifth at the Conference championships, matching its best showing since 1988.
• Along with Maier, three other seniors are expected to factor into the team's scoring - Taylor Bryson, Michelle Davis and Chelsea Reilly, as well as junior Laurynne Chetelat, a second-team All-Pac-10 choice in 2008 who looks to return to form after battling injuries last season.
• The Buffs had dominated the Big 12, winning 11-consecutive conference titles before placing second the last three years.
• Colorado returns all but one athlete from the 2010 roster that placed 15th at the NCAA Championships, led by All-Americans Joe Bosshard and Andy Wacker.
• With Colorado ranked seventh in the nation in the USTFCCCA Preseason Coaches poll, the men's Pac-12 Championship meet just got more difficult as the Buffs expect to compete for the Conference crown immediately.
• The Colorado women's team is preseason-ranked No. 4 in the nation, bringing with it two NCAA titles, the last coming in 2004.
• The Buffs return all but one harrier from a team that placed second at the Big 12 Championships and sixth at the NCAA Championships last year.
• Shalaya Kipp and Laura Tremblay return to the roster, both were All-Americans in 2010
• The Colorado women also expect to compete for the Conference title immediately, after earning a No. 4 national ranking in the USTFCCCA preseason poll.
• The men will be rebuilding behind senior Luke Puskedra, who was third at the NCAA Championships in 2010 and fourth at the Conference championship meet.
• Sophomores Parker Stinson and Ben DeJarnette lead a stable of youngsters looking to move up into Oregon's top five.
Ducks could also look to highly-touted freshman Lukas Verzbicas to contribute immediately.
• Oregon starts the season ranked No. four in the USTFCCCA preseason coaches poll.
• The Ducks welcome back 2010 Pac-10 individual champion and Conference runner of the year junior Jordan Hasay to lead the team in 2011. Hasay was also the NCAA West Region champion and finished third at the NCAA Championships last fall.
• Hasay was selected the national Cross Country/Track & Field academic All-American of the Year; the first sophomore in any sport to be named the national All-American of the Year in the nearly 60-year history of the program.
• Oregon also features defending NCAA 800 meter champion junior Anne Kesselring, as well as sophomore Lanie Thompson, an all-conference performer a year ago.
• UO was ranked 16th in the USTFCCCA preseason coaches poll and returns eight letterwinners from a team that placed in a tie for third in last year's Conference championship then were 12th at the NCAA Championships.
Oregon State Beavers
• The Beavers are returning four seniors for the 2011 season, including star runner Laura Carlyle. Carlyle is hoping to continue her successful outdoor track season into the cross country season.
• The Beavers lost two key runners to graduation in Jennifer Macias, Abby Chesimet and Hannah Soza-Hodgkinson but added six new freshmen to the roster this year.
• Oregon State broke ground this summer for a new track facility. Phase one of the track and field project will include an IAAF certified Olympic-caliber polyurethane surface, nine-lane track.
• The Cardinal start the season ranked No. 2 in the USTFCCCA preseason coaches poll, the highest-ranked squad in the nation. Last year, Stanford runners finished 1-2-3 in the Conference championship meet, but placed fourth at the NCAA Championship after spending much of the season ranked No. 1.
• Feeling like it has underachieved the last two years, the Cardinal are a determined group led by six returning runners who competed at last year's NCAA meet. Stanford boasts experience and youth, with All-Americans Chris Derrick and Jacob Riley combining their efforts with 16 underclassmen.
• Stanford returns the core of the 2010 Conference championship team, including All-Americans Kathy Kroeger and Stephanie Marcy, and could be strong contenders to repeat and to win a NCAA title.
• Ranked seventh in the USTFCCCA preseason poll, the Cardinal are boosted by a strong recruiting class which includes Aisling Cuffe, the Gatorade National Cross Country Runner of the Year.
• The Bruins look to improve on their fourth-place finish at the Conference meet last year and will look to a core of returnees to lead the charge. Nohe Lema is the highest returning finisher at the meet last year, placing 17th overall.
• Along with Lema, UCLA will lean on fifth-year seniors Dylan Knight and Kent Morikawa, as well as sophomore Joel Ambo. Making their collegiate debuts will be redshirt freshmen Amjed Aboukhadijeh, Chase Zukerman and Daniel Rosales.
• The Bruins look to a slew of sophomores to carry the load in 2011. Of the 11 on the roster, seven ran in last year's Pac-10 Championship. Siera Vega was the highest finisher returning, placing 20th overall.
• UCLA looks to be a fairly young squad, with 11 freshmen or redshirt freshmen runners.
• Though young, the Bruins have some veterans to look to, including Katja Goldring, who will be competing in her first cross country event in two years when the season opens.
• USC will rely heavily on newcomers and junior Shelby Buckley, who is expected to compete in cross country for USC for the first time. A transfer from UCLA, she placed 48th at the 2008 Pac-10 Championships.
• The Trojans have been sidetracked by injuries and 13 runners are freshmen and sophomores.
• The Utes debut their Pac-12 season at the Utah State Open and are led by a trio of standout runners, among who are junior Amanda Mergaert, senior Alyssa Abbott and sophomore Rebekah Winterton.
• Mergaert qualified for the 2010 NCAA Championships and finished 45th with a time of 20:56. Abbott was granted an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA for medical hardship and returns in 2011 after have qualified for the 2008 NCAA Championships, finishing 76th with a time of 21:00.5, missing All-America status by 19 seconds.
• Winterton is coming off a strong freshman outdoor track season where she finished with a personal-best 10-kilometer time of 36:05, which ranks seventh all-time in school history.
• Seven freshman look to bolster the roster and are expected to make their collegiate debuts this season.
• The Huskies look to make up for their disappointment in 2011 where they just missed out on a bid to the NCAA Championships after placing sixth at the NCAA West Regional.
• Washington already has some challenges to overcome, with key runners sidelined due to injuries, including All-American miler James Cameron who will likely sit out the fall campaign.
• UW will look to its top-seven returnees in Max O'Donoghue-McDonald, Cameron Quackenbush, Joey Bywater, Michael Miller, Taylor Carlson and Gareth Gilna to lead a talented freshman class.
• The Huskies return an arsenal of runners on the women's side, including 2010 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Katie Flood, track All-American Megan Goethals, NCAA All-West performer Justine Johnson and a healthy Christine Babcock.
• UW opens the 2011 campaign ranked 11th in the USTFCCCA preseason coaches poll. Last season, Washington tied for third at the Pac-10 meet despite enduring injuries throughout the fall, which seemed to take a toll on the Huskies in the final weeks. This season, the pieces appear to be coming together to make Washington a threat at a top-10 showing at the national meet.
• Three returning running highlighting the WSU men's roster are juniors Matt Cronrath and Andrew Kimpel, and sophomore Andrew Gonzales. Kimpel looks to build on last year's successes. He was the second Cougar to cross the finish line at the 2010 Conference championship, placing 32nd overall, and also finished 64th at the NCAA West Regional. He was also fourth overall at the USA Cross Country Championships in Spokane in 2010.
• Gonzales was the third Cougar and 102nd overall finisher at the NCAA West Regional in 2010. Cronrath was the top WSU runner in the 1500m at the 2011 Pac-10 Championships.
• Head coach Pete Julian is entering his third season and is seeing his first full recruiting class come into their own as they become sophomores this year. Among this year's recruiting class, he brought in Scott Carlyle was a two-time Washington state cross country champion.
• Ruby Roberts headlines the returning runners for the Cougars. She had a very successful freshman campaign where she led the team in every race last year. Among her notable accomplishments from 2010, she was the top WSU placer at the Conference championship, crossing the finish line at 37, then set the freshman school record in the mile with a time of 4:48.97.
• Junior Caroline Austin and sophomore Sarah Bobbe look to help lead the Cougars in 2011. Austin was the second WSU finisher at the Conference meet in 2010, while Bobbe ran the 10th-best time in school history in the 5000m.
• Notable freshmen joining the team this year are Katie Fleischer, a four-time South Western Ontario Secondary School Athletics Associations individual cross country winner, and Heidi Turner, a three-time Montana State AA cross country champion.