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Southwest Region Cross Country Preview

Team-by-Team Preseason Report for Boys and Girls DyeStat/Harrier Top Tens

August 24,2007

by Salomon Gonzales, Southwest Regional Editor

Boys - Girls

Many questions will be answered about the southwest region very early. In Colorado most of the top teams will travel to Colorado Springs (site of the state Championships) on August 30th to compete in the Harrison Invitational. On September 8th the UNM invitational will host all of the top teams in New Mexico. And in Utah most of the top teams will face off at BYU on the same weekend. One week later the top teams from Wyoming, New Mexico and Colorado will be at the Liberty Bell Invite. Until then lets take a look at how the top teams in the Southwest look…”on paper” anyway.


1. Academy XC Club (Albuquerque Academy)-Chargers (aka The Red Army)

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Coach: Adam Kedge

The Red Army lost one soldier (Dustin Martin) from the 2006 squad that finished 7th at NTN. Since last November the team has shown improvement. New team leader Ben Johnson parlayed his runner-up individual performance at NTN with a 6th place showing at Footlocker finals. On the track he clocked 9:16 and 4:16 (both top times in NM). Some of his teammates had impressive spring campaigns as well: Kyle Cooper (4:34, 10:02), and Taylor Murray (4:29, 1:58) picked up all state honors. The Chargers could get a shot in the arm in the form of Curtis Beach who has stated that he would focus more on cross country this fall.

Coach Kedge States, "Our single minded focus is to win state. After we achieve/don't achieve our goal we'd love to go further and be left standing somewhere near the top of a podium in December."

Interesting Fact: Albuquerque Academy’s enrollment is 648 students. In New Mexico they chose to compete one division above.

1st Competition: 9/8/07 University of New Mexico Invitational (all top NM teams will be in attendance)

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/14/07 Liberty Bell, 9/28/07 Academy Invite, 10/6/07 Albuquerque City Championship, 10/20/07 Rio Rancho, 10/26/07 Los Alamos

2. Los Alamos XC Club (Los Alamos High School)-The Hilltoppers

Los Alamos, New Mexico

Coaches: Rob and Kathy Hipwood

On paper the competition between Los Alamos and Academy looks extremely close. But the Hipwoods and their "LA Boys" will not rest on last season's results. In 2006 Los Alamos put on a late season charge to capture a birth to the Nike Team Nationals and a runner-up (4pts to Academy) place in the 4A division. Only one athlete (Nathan Romero) has graduated from that squad. This year's squad should be led by Allen Pittman and Gareth Gilna. The team returns 6 runners who are able to run within a 40 second gap.

The Hipwoods state, "We are VERY excited about the upcoming season. We have a lot of kids returning and many of our kids are putting in a solid base this summer; therefore expectations are high. The goal for both programs will be state titles."

Interesting Fact: Rob Hipwood and Adam Kedge were competitors in high school track and cross country. The two remain friends and meet every summer for a run and breakfast.

1st Competition: 9/1/07 High Altitude Challenge, Alamosa Colorado

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/8/07 UNM, 9/14/07 Liberty Bell, 9/28/07 Academy Invite, 10/6/07, 10/26/07 Los Alamos (4 head to head battles with Academy)

3. Wheat Ridge XC Club (Wheat Ridge High School)-Farmers

Wheat Ridge, Colorado

Coach: Scott Chamberlin

The Farmers are the essence of a cross country team. When the team hit its stride the top 5 often ran within 30 seconds of each other. But at state they took the teamwork credo to far and put together 5 sub-par performances that resulted in a 3rd place finish. That disappointment has made the boys from Wheat Ridge hungry for redemption. Three Farmers usually took turns at the top spot in 2006. A consistent leader could immerge in Sophomore Scott Fauble who ran a 9:45, 3200 as a freshman. Junior Henry Cowhick is a 400/800 runner on the track and Dart Schwaderer should continue to improve. Wheat Ridge lacks depth and is currently worried about the health of Bryan Heiny. But Heiny's health continues to improve throughout the summer and should be 100% by the end of the season.

Coach Chamberlin States, "The Colorado season is unpredictable but I believe we will be ranked in the top 5 as the first few meets get started. Dakota Ridge will be strong and impressive (perhaps even stronger than last year) and will be ranked top 5 (most likely 1st)."

Interesting Fact: Wheat Ridge is the second smallest 5A School in Colorado and qualifies for 4A. They will be moving to that division next season.

1st Competition: 8/30/07 Harrison Invitational, Colorado Springs

Key Regular Season Meets:
9/7/07 Cherry Creek Invite, 9/14/07 Liberty Bell

4. Timpview XC Club (Timpview High School)-Thunderbirds

Provo, Utah

Coach:  Brain Kuhlmann

The Thunderbirds return a solid nucleus that includes Nathan Fletcher (7th UT 4A), Kyrs Gardner (11th UT 4A), and Jason Fairchild (13th UT 4A). They will also be recharged by the emergence of Jonathan Nelson. He is the teams #1 newcomer on this year’s team. Jonathan won the JV race at the Rocky Mountain Regional and placed in the top 10 in the sophomore division of Footlocker West. He backed that performance up by placing at the Utah State Track meet in the 3200. The team’s anchor at #5 should either be Ken Cline (JV in 06) Kevin Kemp (27th UT State) or Josh Peavler (injured most of 06 XC). This is a solid squad that is capable of finishing within 30 seconds of each other.

Coach Kuhlmann States, “We have a great group kids that run in a pack. And they are really motivated and help each other succeed.”

Key Regular Season Meets: 8/25/07 American Fork Grass Relays, 8/29/07 Pre-Region @ Springville, 9/8/07, BYU Autumn Classic

5. Cheyenne XC Club (Cheyenne Central High School)--Indians

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Coach: Rick Bishop

The 2007 Indians have what the 2006 team lacked; strong frontrunners. Central returns 3 top runners from 2006: Joshua Franke (6th WY State, 4:35), Devin Rathburn (9th WY State) and Laine Parrish (10th WY State, 4:37, 9:51). This year’s team lacks depth. Central has graduated 10 of the team’s top 15 runners. It will be difficult for this year’s team to duplicate the 2nd half run of a year ago. They will need some young runners to get fast in a hurry.

Coach Bishop states, “This may be a down year for Wyoming. A lot of good kids graduated.”

1st Competition: 8/24/07 Casper

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/7/09 Cherry Creek, 9/14/07 Liberty Bell, 9/21/07 Rapid City, 9/28/07 Loveland

6. Mountain View XC Club (Mountain View High School)-Bruins

Orem, Utah

Coach: Mike Hunter

In 2006 the Bruins finished 10 points behind Davis for the Utah 5A team title. A new high school in the Davis district has left questions for that school but there is no questioning the returning runners on Mountain View squad. The Bruins bring back 3 of their top 7 runners from that meet: Travis Fuller (7th UT 5A, 4:40), Trenton Allred (24th UT 5A, 4:39) and Nicholas Harrison (50th UT 5A).

7. Vista XC Club (Desert Vista High School)-Thunder

Phoenix, Arizona

Coach: Chris Hanson

In 2006 the Thunder took home the blue trophy for 5A division I. They were led by state champ Matt Boughton. Matt’s track times were impressive as well (9:29, 4:25, 1:59). The defending state champs return a strong supporting cast that include: Chris Conway (9:29, 4:32, 1:58), Mike Merrell (10:17, 4:33) Sean Barr (10:18) and Adam Estavillo (4:38). The Thunder will run a very competitive regular season schedule and should be the toughest Arizona team defending team defending home turf on November 17th.

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/29/07 Doug Conley Invitational (held on SW NTN Regional Course), 10/13/07 Great American Cross Country Festival, Hoover, Alabama, 10/20/07 Phoenix City Championship

8. Crest XC Club (Mountain Crest High School)-Mustangs

Hyrum, Utah

Coach: Mary Kirby

Justin Hedin (2006 4A state champ) has graduated but he left behind a gang of runners who can blaze with the best runners in the Southwest. That group includes Kevin Dickey (4th UT 4A), Zak Dymock (17th UT 4A), Skylar Riggs (21st UT 4A) and Jesse Petersen (42nd UT 4A). The 2007 Mustangs should be led by Dickey but Coach Kirby is especially excited by the progress of Neal Ferrin (27th UT 4A). In 2006 Crest finished a hair behind Timpview in the 4A race and the Utah combined scores. Those two teams should be close again this season. Crest does not get much pre-season attention due to the fact that many of the XC runners don’t’ run track. Look for this group to be stronger than advertised.

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/8/08 BYU, 9/22/07 Bob Firman Invitational in Boise, Idah0

9. Greenwood XC Club (Cherry Creek High School)-Bruins

Greenwood Village, Colorado

Coach: Steve Lohman

The Bruins from Cherry Creek are always a powerful force in Colorado. In the spring the school enrolled a new student that made them even stronger. Charles White (4:09) is a legitimate favorite whenever he laces up his spikes. He will give the Bruins a huge advantage every time he toes the line this fall. He is joined by a solid supporting cast that includes: Walter Schafer (4:42), Brian King (2:02) and Jens Olson (1:59).

1st Competition: 8/30/07 Harrison Invitational

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/7/07 Cherry Creek, 9/14/07 Liberty Bell, 9/29 Pre-Nationals (Portland, OR), 10/11/07 League Meet

10. Gallup XC Club (Gallup High School)-Bengals

Gallup, New Mexico

Coach: Galen Martinez

If you happen to find yourself in Gallup; paint a starting line and announce that you are having a road race. You will soon be surrounded by a couple dozen kids ready to run. Don’t expect them to say much they just want to run. In Gallup running is more than just a pastime it is a tradition. This year’s squad is very similar to many tough Bengal teams from the past, in that you can throw out their track times because they are meaningless. When the line is painted in the grass at Rio Rancho on November 10 you can bet that 7 fast boys from Gallup will be ready to defend their 5A state championship. That group should include: Sammy Smith (10th NM 5A), Donavan Jim (11th NM 5A), Maruice Touchine (26th NM 5A) and Donavan Jackson (37h NM 5A). Coach Martinez also believes that Vernard Martinez will be a top Bengal in 2007.

1st Competition: 9/8/07 UNM

Key Regular Season Meets: Flagstaff Invite, 9/28/07 Albuquerque Academy, 10/6/07 Curtis Williams Invite (Gallup), 10/20/07 Rio Rancho, 10/26/07 Los Alamos


1. Albuquerque XC Club (Eldorado High School)-Eagles

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Coach: James Butler

The Eagles did not graduate a single girl from the squad that finished 9th at NTN in 2006. But Faviola Valdez (27th NM 5A) and her family moved to Virginia. She will be missed by her teammates but the Eagles return a group of girls who have improved since December. Rachel Velarde (2nd NM 5A) has found herself this summer and is running “incredible” according to Coach Butler. Many have believed that she always had another gear and she may have found it. Julie Brasher (11th NM 5A) was the Eagle’s #1 at NTN. She has the potential to run with or close to Valdez but she must adjust from a spring and summer of sprinting. The same may be said for the super talented Kristy Hannah (6th NM 5A). Hannah can run well in any race from 200 to 5000 meters and may have the most potential in the group. All Allison Bedonie (5th NM 5A) does is run consistently. She is not flashy, she’s is just ‘MONEY.’ Laylne (16th NM 5A) had improved and could run in the mix throughout the season. The Eagles are limited by their school district (Albuquerque Public Schools) in that they are only allowed to race outside of Albuquerque 1 time per cross country season.

1st Competition: 9/8/07 UNM

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/28/07 Albuquerque Academy, 10/6/07 Albuquerque City Championships, 10/20/07 Rio Rancho, 10/26/07 Los Alamos

2. Dakota XC Club (Dakota Ridge High School)--Eagles

Littleton, Colorado

Coach: Mike Callor

1-4 Dakota Ridge may have the toughest group of girls in the nation. They will eventually be led by, superstar, Katie Vanetta (4th FLF, 4:56, 10:16) who transferred to the school in the spring. Katie cannot complete, due to Colorado transfer rules, until the 5th meet of the season. Her supporting cast is outstanding. Alexa Rogers (5th CO 5A, 5:02, 11:00) and Natosha Rogers (8th CO 5A, 5:12, 11:00) could be #1 runners on a lot of nationally ranked teams. Paige Lillo (5:21, 11:17 in 2006) will round off the quartet. Currently the question of who the Eagle’s #5 runner will be remains a mystery. Coach Callor lists 7 runners who will be vying for the spot. If one of them can step up, this team will be dangerous beyond November.

Coach Callor States, “NTN is finally where it should have been all along. The girls feel they should have gone last year, so it is good to finally have a system in place that awards teams that run well when it counts.”

1st Competition: 8/30/07 Harrison Invite (Top Colorado Teams)

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/7/07 Cherry Creek, 9/15/07 Pueblo, 9/28/07 Dave Sanders Invite, 10/6/07 Centerra,

3. Phoenix XC Club (Sandra Day O'Connor High School)-Eagles

Phoenix, Arizona

Coach: Brian Dempsey

The Eagles return five runners off of the team that earned a trip to NTN last December. Leading the way back is Arizona 5A DII Individual XC champ Lindsay Prescott. She will be joined by Jade Riley (4th AZ 5AII), Kailey Rumbo (15th AZ 5AII) Renee Peck (17th AZ 5AII) and Shannon Walsh (38th AZ 5AII). At last year’s state meet O’Connor was able to place 4 runners in the top 10 but two of those runners (Camille Olson and Aleina Eisenhauer) have graduated. The Eagles will need significant improvement from last year’s #6 and #7 runners if they hope to contend with the top teams in the Southwest region and Arizona in particular.

Coach Dempsey states: “We are working harder than last year. We want go back to Portland. It is going to be tough. AZ girls are really improving. Eldorado looks good. It will be a very competitive season.”

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/15/07 OC/Ken Denson Invitational (Home Meet), 9/29/07 Doug Conley, 10/20/07 Mt. SAC

4. Park City XC Club (Park City High School)-Miners

Park City, Utah

Coach: Bill Kahn

Park City’s outlook is comparable to O’Connor’s. The Miners return 5 of the seven runners from the squad that won the 3A title in 2006. Park City was also able to win the combined scores and lay claim to the title of fastest team in Utah. Last October Park City rode a 33 second gap to victory. The Miners will need their #6 and #7 runners to improve if they are looking to duplicate that type of gap. The top returning runners for the Miners are Lia Margolis (#7 UT 3A) and Elizabeth Guiney (#9 UT 3A).

5. Sandy XC Club (Jordan High School)-Beetdiggers

Sandy, Utah

Coach: Greg Cramer

The Beetdiggers return all seven runners from the squad who won the Utah 5A title in 2007. Based on returning runners Jordan may have the best team in Utah. They will be led by three runners who finished in the top 20 at the state meet: Stephanie Burt (11th UT 5A), Lexy Davis (18th UT 5A) and Aimee Haertel (19th UT 5A). At the state meet the top 5 Beetdiggers ran a within 40 seconds of each other. Their solid pack and depth will make them a force throughout the year.

6. Los Alamos XC Club (Los Alamos High School)-Hilltoppers

Los Alamos, New Mexico

Coaches: Rob and Kathy Hipwood

In 2006 the Hiltoppers were able to run their best when they needed to. The LA girls were able to upset Academy who had beaten them throughout the season. Of the girls who ran on that day two have graduated and several other question marks have popped up since then. Two time all state XC performer Megan Stockton may forgo XC this season and play soccer. But she may be replaced by a pair of soccer players who want to try cross country. If Jessica Mietz (5:30) and Bryn Morgan (2:26) join the squad they may help make up for the loss of Ali Blum and Anna Trugman who graduated. Question marks aside the Hilltoppers return a solid group that includes: Margaret Wood (3rd NM 4A), Holy Walker (9th NM 4A), and Adrienne Larson (17th NM 4A). Los Alamos also returns their entire junior varsity squad.

1st Competition: 9/1/07 High Altitude Challenge, Alamosa Colorado

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/8/07 UNM, 9/14/07 Liberty Bell, 9/28/07 Academy Invite, 10/6/07, 10/26/07 Los Alamos

7. Greenwood XC Club (Cherry Creek High School)-Bruins

Greenwood Village, Colorado

Coach: Steve Lohman

Steve Lohman is cautiously optimistic about the 2007 Bruin team. He believes that they are a top 10 team in Colorado but most people believe that they are much tougher. The 2006 Cherry Creek team pulled off a surprise when they ran away with the 5A State Championship. They defeated a heavily favored Fort Collins squad. Three Girls (Lisa Johnstone, Alicia Solow-Niederman and Alyse Carlson) have graduated from that squad. Of the four that remained Lauren Johnson (15th CO 5A) and Clare Gallager (16th CO 5A) should be the lead Bruins.

1st Competition: 8/30/07 Harrison Invitational

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/7/07 Cherry Creek, 9/14/07 Liberty Bell, 9/29 Pre-Nationals (Portland, OR), 10/11/07 League Meet

8. Fort Collins XC Club (Fort Collins High School)-Lambkins

Fort Collins, Colorado

Coach: Chris Suppes

For most of the 2006 season the Lambkins were considered one of the best teams in the nation. Their slip-up at the state meet cost them what seemed like an automatic trip to NTN. The 2007 squad returns 5 girls that ran at state. Teams should not take the Lambkins lightly and judge them on their performance on one day in 2006. Look for this squad to come out hungry to vindicate one off day. Returning runners include: Lisa Reyna, Tati Ogan, Miranda Benzel, Kelsey Follett and Rachel Viger.

1st Competition: 8/30/07 Harrison Invitational

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/7/07 Cherry Creek, 9/14/07 Liberty Bell, 9/21/07 John Martin Invite, 10/6/07 Centerra

9. Page XC Club (Page High School)--Devils

Page, Arizona

Coach: Theo Martin

The reigns have been passed from legendary coach Mark Lomeland to Theo Martin. Lomeland will continue to coach track at Page. As the reigns were passed the carriage hit a couple of snags on the road as a couple of key runners have decided to try other sports. The Devils do return two runners who finished in the top 20 at last year’s 4A Division II Race: Latrisha Blackstar (6th) and Mariah William (14th). The big loss for Page was Katrina Lee who won the 4A DII race in 19:14 a year ago.

1st Competition: 8/28/07 Hope

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/29/07 Doug Conley, 10/20/07 Mt. SAC

10. Academy XC Club (Albuquerque Academy)--Chargers

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Coach: Claudia Bergsohn

In 2006 the Chargers went through an adjustment when their coach Brantley Lutz left New Mexico to pursue a college coaching position. Claudia Bergsohn was hired in the spring to replace Lutz and the Academy girls had to adjust. The Adjustment went well for most of the upperclassmen but inconsistency plagued the team throughout the season. The inconsistency reached is end with a disappointing performance at the state meet when they were upset by Los Alamos. Since then the girls have caught their stride and had excellent track seasons. Julia Foster (1st NM 4A) ran 11:56 and 2:26 in the spring but she has been absent for much of the early season training in 2007. The Throckmorton Twins (Paige and Amanda) ran 1st and 2nd respectively in the 4A 1600 meters and both also picked up medals in the 800m run. Clara Milne (24th NM 4A) and Ellie Joles (32nd NM 4A) picked up 3 all state medals between them. On paper Academy has the talent to contend with Eldorado in New Mexico. But the races will not be run on paper. The girls will need to cooperate with their coach and prove their potential.

1st Competition: 9/8/07 University of New Mexico Invitational (all top NM teams will be in attendance)

Key Regular Season Meets: 9/14/07 Liberty Bell, 9/28/07 Academy Invite, 10/6/07 Albuquerque City Championship, 10/20/07 Rio Rancho, 10/26/07 Los Alamos