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Cross Country 1999

DyeStat Preview: 
Boys Teams


by Rick Hill

The Boys' Race of Champions will be a region to region, and team to team showdown. Beaver River, Campbell County, Christian Brothers Academy, Katella and The Woodlands will contest for the top team spot. All five are ranked in the top 8 nationally by Harrier Magazine. 

The key to this race will be placing a team's 4th through 6th place runners in low scoring positions requiring incredible team discipline and racing maturity. The Great American competitive environment is unique to high school running and may unsettle even the best teams. With 10 of the top 20 teams in the field, these teams have never had to perform at such peak level, surrounded by so many top runners.

The winning team must have patience in the fast early going and make a valiant charge to the front over the final mile. 

Returning their entire top 10 runners from the 1998 New Jersey State Championship team, Tom Heath and his Christian Brothers boys are taking dead aim at a national number one ranking. With 10 runners, who can run south of a 4:28 mile, this team has more depth than any team in recent years. 

Watch CBA closely at the mile mark. They will need to be in a tight pack and in a position to place their first runner in the top 10, which will be difficult with 8 of the top 50 runners in the nation in the race. The balance of the team must be positioned to make a run for places between 20 and 35. 

A deep field will challenge CBA, including 9 other national top-20 teams. Leading the challenge will be The Woodlands of Houston, Texas who will head to the cooler Charlotte climate. Dan Green's team, ranked 5th by Harrier Magazine, has gotten out of the box fast with several big early season wins including one against local rival Kingwood, ranked 12th nationally. The school will likely put three runners under 15:40. They are led by Chris Emme, a 9:12 two miler, the best runner out of Texas, and the second fastest returning runner from the southeast. He will be closely followed by Luis Bordes and Robert Dunphy, a 4:18 miler as a 9th grader, in 1998. Dunphy missed most of the 1999 outdoor season due to injury, but is back to full strength and wants to make a national mark for himself and his team. To win in Charlotte they will need to put two runners and possibly three runners ahead of Christian Brother's first runner. 

Seeking respect and national recognition will be Beaver River High School from Beaver Falls, New York. Beaver Falls with a population of 500 people is a small farming community near the Canadian border. The team has often been overlooked, and, seldom if ever, has had the chance to compete on the national level. But adversity seems to follow this team. In early summer, Coach Walt McLaughlin resigned, after winning six state small school titles. Dan Golden assumed the head position and has led a town-wide effort to raise money for the Charlotte trip. He seemed to have his team poised for a breakthrough race at Great American, when, unfortunately, the team's top runner, Aaron Emery underwent an emergency appendectomy, and days later, number three runner, Francis Scarpinato, was diagnosed with mono. With two of the top three runners down, it appears that Beaver River will have to wait until season's end to fully shine. But Emery is not the top runner in the east for lack of effort, he plans to still run, just three weeks after surgery.

Katella from Anaheim, California is the number one team from California and should challenge for first place with a good front-runner and depth through four or five runners. Ranked 6th in the nation going into Great American, Katella hopes to put 5 runners under 15:50. Like Beaver River, Katella is another small school and races in California's Division II, often overlooked by the media. The team is led by Tony Lozano, Daniel Mejia, and Juan Casas. 

Also out of the west will be an outstanding team from Campbell County, WY. Led by Senior Hendrick Gerrits and ranked 7th nationally, they have proven to be big meet runners.

The final big name from the east will be Shenendehowa, a perennial national power. On the surface, it appears that this team seeks to only to maintain respect after graduating the majority of last year's team, but look for another group of young stars to emerge from this solid program.

Nebraska is sending its top program, Lincoln Southeast to Charlotte. Making a rare out of state trip, this team is going to surprise a lot of people, even with a 20th place national ranking. They are a much better team and will show it at McAlpine. Looking at regular time spreads of 15 to 20 seconds between the top 5 runners, it could be said that Coach Ted Larson has perfected pack running to an art. However, this team hunts from the back like a pack of wolves and should knock off three or more teams ranked ahead of them to challenge the top 10 national ranking.

The south's top 4 teams, lead by The Woodlands will be on their home Footlocker course to defend the honor of the south. North Carolina's leading contender will be Watauga from Boone. This school has a long history of producing great runners and may have its best ever in Ricky Brookshire. Look for Irmo from Columbia, SC to make a hard run at Watauga to establish bragging rights for another year. The final top team from the south is Kingwood, winner of several number one national rankings and the 1998 Texas State Champ.

In summary, Christian Brothers is going to win the silver trophy, with Woodlands and Katella close, but not close enough with their 5th and 6th runners. Beaver River will be fourth, followed by Southeast, Campbell County, Watauga, and Shenendehowa. One team, who may surprise, is Bingham, from South Jordan, Utah which looks strong in early season meets. They finished second to Mountain View; the nation's number one ranked team on September 11th and will only get better as the season progresses. Bingham was the top ranked boys' team in 1995.

In the end, cross-country fans will wonder how Christian Brothers will stack up against the two teams ranked ahead of them, but no other team will have beat such strong head to head competition. Woodlands and Katella will establish themselves as top national powers and the best in their states. (However, the full power of a weakened Beaver River will wait another day, or become the story of the year with a big upset) Southeast will be the surprise of the meet and charge into a top 10 national ranking. 

Predicted order of finish:

1. Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, NJ

2. Woodlands, Houston TX

3. Katella, Anaheim, CA

4. Beaver River, Beaver Falls, NY

5. Southeast, Lincoln, NE

6. Campbell County, WY

7. Watauga, Boone, NC

8. Poly, Long Beach, CA

9. Kingwood, Houston, TX

10. Shenendehowa, Clifton Park, NY

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