CROSS COUNTRY ADDS TWO TO '04 ROSTER
BOULDER -University of Colorado head cross country and track and field coach Mark Wetmore announced Wednesday that highly touted prep distance runners Chris Pannone (Whitehorse Station, N.J.) and James Strang (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) have each signed letters of acceptance to attend CU and run for the Buffs beginning next fall.
"We have an excellent roster presently and these two, in addition to Ryan Deak and Bradley Harkrader, make as good a male distance recruiting class as we've ever had," complimented Wetmore.
CHRIS PANNONE, 5-8, Distance, Whitehorse Station, N.J. (Hunterdon Central)
A four year letterwinner in both cross country and track (800-3,200-m) for head coach Ludwig Lubaszka, Pannone owns the Hunterdon Central record in the 3,200-m (9:02 at the 2004 Indoor State Championships) as well as several cross country course marks. His Eastern State Championship finish was the 10th fastest at storied Van Cortlandt Park and on Van Cortlandt's 2.5 mile course, his 12:21 is the third best for a New Jersey prep runner trailing Brad Hudson (12:15) and Jason DiJoseph (12:20). The Red Devils were the 2000, '01 and '02 Skyland Conference Cross Country champions and 2002 Central N.J. Sectional champions. As a junior he was a first-team all-state performer in cross country and finished 15th (15:59.19) at the Foot Locker Northeast Region Championship. He repeated his all-state title as a senior in addition to being named the All-Area Runner of the Year, finishing 26th (16:11.8) at Foot Locker Regionals and second team all-state in the 3,200-m. His pr's include 800-m (1:55), 1,600-m (4:17) and 3,200-m (9:02). Pannone considered Florida and North Carolina State before committing to Colorado.
"Chris ran some indisputably excellent performances in cross country this fall on well known, traditional courses in the northeast. His state championship course has been raced on for 30 years and Van Cortland Park in the Bronx has been run on for 75 years. His race times prove that he's an excellent cross country runner. That, coupled with his national ranking in the indoor 2-mile this winter make him one of the better recruits to CU in recent history," said Wetmore.
JAMES STRANG, 6-0, Distance, Signal Mountain, Tenn. (Baylor)
Following a third place 2003 Foot Locker South Regional finish in Charlotte, N.C., Strang ran to an All-American time of 15 minutes, 31 seconds to finish 16th at Foot Locker nationals in San Diego, just 36 seconds off the winning pace. A four-year letterwinner in cross country and track (800-3,200-m, 4x4 and 4x800-m relays) for Baylor, the Red Raiders were the 2000 Division II state champions in cross country in the fastest and deepest Division in the state and the 2002 state champions on the track. In 2003, they were runner-up finishes in both the region and state meets. As a sophomore, Strang was all-state as part of the 4x800-m relay team, and he was first-team all-city and all-region in cross country as a junior, his first season with the sport. He repeated his all-state title in the 4x8 as a junior, and added all-state honors in the 4x400-m. In the classroom he is an honor roll student that has never slipped below the 3.4 mark. Strang had a keen interest in attending Oregon, Villanova, Oklahoma State, Virginia and Texas prior to committing to the Buffs and Colorado.
"By way of his Foot Locker National finish, he's one of the best distance runners in the country. He had the opportunity to attend many prestigious schools and running programs and we're honored he chose CU. He seems to be a bit of a late bloomer, and as good as he was last fall, we think he has more potential than people that finished around him at nationals. He'll be a great addition to our roster," Wetmore added.