Friday, August 24, 2001

Boys cross country preview


LaSalle starts season No. 1

By Dave Schutte
Enquirer Contributor

        Immediately after last season's second-place finish at the Division I cross country state meet, La Salle boys coach Frank Russo was looking ahead to 2001.

        “I only hope we live up to expectations,” Russo said when informed the Lancers were voted No.1 in the Cincinnati Enquirer's preseason poll.

        “The next step is to win the state championship. We've won three individual state titles and qualified three to the Foot Locker (national) Meet but never a team championship.”

        Eight of the 13 coaches voting in the poll feel La Salle is the team to beat with defending state champion St.Xavier No.2 followed by Elder, Middletown and Sycamore.

        Madeira surfaced as the team to beat in Divisions II-III with New Richmond, Wyoming, Ross and Badin the most likely to challenge the Mustangs for the top spot.

        Division I:

        1. La Salle: Defending individual state champion Allen Bader is one of six returning starters that includes Garrett Grogan, Eric Mayhaus, Kevin Wright, Zac Altenau and Paul Calardo

        In addition, Kyle Dragan and Jason Beck return from injuries and sophomore Bill Keckeis, the GCL champion as a freshman, will help the team.

        “There's not a race we've already won, and we'll know what to expect after the first weekend,” Russo said. “Every week, we'll run against a state or nationally ranked team.”

        2. St. Xavier: The Bombers won the 1998 and 2000 state championships and finished second in 1999.

        Under normal circumstances, coach Larry Merkel's team would be No.1 but with La Salle returning six runners and St. X losing the top four, the Bombers were voted second.

        Seniors Ben Wietmarschen and Jeremy Mosher will be looked to for leadership along with sophomore Tommy Balmat who also ran on the state championship team.

        Kyle Kowalski, Josh Walters, Kurt Munninghoff, Michael Weber and Nathan Kamps are expected to challenge for starting spots.

        “We'll be very young and inexperienced,” Merkle said. “Our strengths are numbers (100 runners) and the leadership of the seniors.”

        3. Elder: Although coach Steve Spencer's team graduated four of the seven starters at the state meet, the Panthers will again field a strong squad.

        Rob Cohen, Paul Staudigel, and Derick Lawrence are the returning veterans with Darrell Schneiders, Joe Kenning, Dan Newman and Mitch Frey the top candidates for starting positions.

        “We graduated seven runners, all who ran in our top seven at one time during the season,” Spencer said. “We're relatively inexperienced and must gain confidence in our early meets.”

        4. Middletown: The Middies field a young team with as many as five sophomores expected in the starting lineup.

        “We could have 10 guys go under 17 minutes,” coach Scott Dalton said. “We'll have a very athletic team made up of multi sport athletes.”

        Sophomores Michael Veatch (16:01, Malcolm Tipton (16:25), Evan Dehart (16:50), Adam Becker (17:00) and Keith Mattocks (27:20) are the mainstays along with senior Justin Traux (17:20).

        5. Sycamore: Transfer Brad Neumann, 36th at the state meet year (16:16) running for Moeller, is a welcome addition to an already strong Aviators team. Tom Gallagher, 25th at the state meet, is the top runner.

        This duo is joined by Mitch Clemens (16:55), Ryan Schweet (17:20), Mark Daniel (17:30), Matt Morin (16:56) and Pat Tepe (17:30).

        “We now have two front runners and depth and parity from the three-to-nine positions,” coach Jim Smanik said. “The kids have a desire to win the GMC and the city championship.”

        6. Moeller: Although the Crusaders' top runner in 2000 transfered to Sycamore, coach Jerry Kombrinck will field a veteran team.

        Kevin Schwarz, out most of last season with an injury, returns to be the Crusaders' front runner. Brent VanOrsdel, Michael Goddard, Tony Frost, Kevin Ash, Mike Hile and Pat Witte are the supporting cast.

        7. Colerain: Depth and a group of six standout juniors are the strengths of a Cardinals team that has the potential to challenge for the GMC championship

        Tom Kinne, Jason Simcoe, Chris Toelke, Mark Bierkan, Rob Schlemmer and Ryan Schutte will be joined by seniors Brian Roberson and Joey Peak.

        8. Kings: If the Knights avoid injuries, coach Jim Brant's team could surface as one of the best in the Cincinnati area.

        Taylor Garvin, 26th at the state meet, will be joined by Greg Freson, Cody Ackerman and Zach Thomen-Brown and freshmen Scott Allen, Mike Rusche and Matt Winebar.

        9. Anderson: The lack of a dominant front runner will be tough to overcome but coach Andy Wolf has Ben Stallsworth, Dan Tegge, Brandon Andrews and Andy Gelter to build the team around.

        10. Princeton: The should be the best Vikings team in years.

        Coach Ken Meibers has two outstanding senior performers in Hassan Thompson and Eric Zimmerman along with a juniors Andy Schaefer, Andy Lock and promising sophomore Dan Jones.

        “We have lots of numbers and good speed,” Meibers said. “We must stay healthy and run as a pack to be successful.”

        Division II-III

        1. Madeira: The Mustangs lost four of the seven runners from the Division II state team who will be hard to replace.

        Coach Bob Kitchen will rely on seniors Mark Barrett and Matt Roach, along with junior Josh Stevens, to provide leadership for a young group of runners.

        2. New Richmond: It would be a mistake to take the Lions lightly although coach Jamie Heffner doesn't have a senior on the roster.

        Tony Genna (17:09), Brandon Van (17:49), Brent Goocey (17:49), Randy Williams (17:52), Frank Tremper (18:58) will be joined by newcomers Jerry Potter and Nick Werle.

        3. Wyoming: First-year coach Andrew Kramer inherited an all junior and sophomore team capable of climbing to the top of the poll.

        Lucas Nebert (17:42), Ryan Koscianski (17:50), Ian Smith (17:59), Phillip Roebuck (18:45) and David Schanegold (18:50) are the top returning performers.

        “We are a young team but the top five runners are solid,” Kramer said. “We lost only one runner from last year but on the downside there are no seniors.”

        4. Ross: Jake Richards and Kevin McBreen are the mainstays for the Rams, who are loaded with veteran performers.

        5. Badin: Senior leadership will be one of the Rams strengths with Rick Mick, 74th at the state meet in 17:09, and Scott Berry showing the way.

       



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