2011 Spartan Men's Cross Country Preview
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The 2011 edition of the Case Western Reserve University men's cross country team will feature a mix of accomplished returnees and plenty of fresh faces as the Spartans look to move up the standings in the University Athletic Association this fall.
With the loss of 11 letterwinners from the 2010 team which notched a national ranking and placed seventh at the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional, the Spartans will look to three of their top upperclassmen to lead the way in 2011.
Following a breakout sophomore campaign, junior Chris Kelly (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg) is back to lead the pack after earning all-region honors last fall. Overall, he competed in six varsity races with three top-10 finishes and led the team in all but one varsity race. A fall UAA All-Academic selection, Kelly placed ninth overall at the Bill Sudeck Classic with a 6K time of 19:49.69 and stopped the clock with a season-best 8K time of 25:30.00 at the Inter-Regional Rumble. He then turned in back-to-back 10th-place finishes at the Mideast Pre-Regional and the All-Ohio Championships. He closed out the season in 17th at the UAA Championships (26:11.50) and 31st-place overall at the Great Lakes Regional Championships (25:58.30).
"Chris Kelly made major strides last season, leading our team in a majority of races after turning in an average freshman season," stated 11th-year head coach Kathy Lanese. "His success in track during his rookie year created a catalyst for excitement as well as enhanced and dedicated training that paid off in his sophomore year. With another summer of training, I anticipate that he has climbed a new platform physically – that increased fitness will elevate him to the top group in most competitions."
Lanese is also counting on major contributions from seniors Christopher Wade (Berea, Ohio/Berea) and Ethan Teare (Burton, Ohio/Berkshire).
Wade competed in six varsity races last fall and was named UAA All-Academic. He ran a season-best 6K time at the Sudeck Classic (21:09.66), placed ninth overall at the 8K PSU-Behrend Invitational (27:33.40), finished 51st at the UAA Championships (27:03.45) and recorded a season-best 8K time at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional, finishing 55th with a time of 26:22.30.
Teare also competed in six varsity races and named UAA All-Academic. He finished 47th at the UAA Championships (26:59.17) and crossed the line in 74th at the Great Lakes Regional (26:36.60).
"Christopher (Wade) and Ethan (Teare) made significant improvements on the track in the spring and are true leaders on the cross country course," noted Lanese.
Returning with championship race experience is junior Paul Curtiss (Newport Beach, Calif./Newport Harbor). He ran a season-best 6K time of 21:08.83 to place 44th at the Sudeck Classic and a season-best 8K time of 27:32.60 to place 69th at the All-Ohio Championships. Curtiss placed 75th at the UAA Championships in 25:59.90 and was named UAA All-Academic.
Back to provide depth for Case will be a plethora of experienced runners including seniors Steven LaDelfa (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Sutherland) and Peter Walls (Anchorage, Alaska/Grace Christian) as well as juniors Nick Hewitt (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) and Paul Zackowski (Phoenix, Ariz./Valley Christian). Hewitt and Zackowski were each UAA All-Academic honorees in 2010.
"A big key to our season is gaining critical race experience and forming a consistent nucleus of runners," said Lanese. "We'll need to evaluate our performances and build race to race. Most importantly, we need to maintain overall physical health and employ strong mental skills throughout the season."
The Spartan roster will provide plenty of flexibility with a host of returning competitors that include juniors Michael Perisa (Cortland, Ohio/Warren JFK) and Greg Dornback (Hiram, Ohio/Berkshire) as well as sophomores David Dixon (Atlanta, Ga./Lakeside), Eric Dong (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville-Broadview Heights), Alex Flick (Meadville, Pa./Mercyhurst Prep), Mitchell Haynes (Henrietta, N.Y./Rush-Henrietta), Joseph Heebner (Skillman, N.J./Montgomery), Wyatt Hoch (Perrysburg, Ohio/Perrysburg) Seonwoo Jeong (Washington, D.C./School Without Walls), Dishen Lin (Syosset, N.Y./Syosset) and Corey Williams (Mansfield, Ohio/Perry).
"I believe there are several runners who have dedicated a great deal to training this summer and are waiting in the wings as contributing performers," noted Lanese. "I'm excited to see who steps up and joins our top performers this year."
The Spartans will open their annually daunting schedule on September 3 as hosts of the 11th Annual Bill Sudeck Classic at Squire Valleevue Farm. The All-Ohio Championship is set for September 30 hosted by Cedarville University and the UAA Championship will take place on October 29 at the University of Chicago (Ill.). NCAA Regionals are a short drive away at Oberlin College on November 12 as the Spartans will look to qualify for the NCAA Division III National meet hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh on November 19.
"Our number one goal is to improve in the standings in the UAA and earn a better regional finish than last year," said Lanese. "Secondly, it is vital that we improve as a team race to race. That improvement will build confidence and bring us to a new level of competition."