After a pair of top-five seasons for the SDSU men’s and women’s cross country teams, the Jacks will place an emphasis on senior leadership and recovery from a year off of competition.
The men and women finished third and fourth, respectively, at last season’s Summit League Championship in Tulsa, Okla. behind strong performances from seniors Greg Vollmer and Danielle Burke. With Vollmer and Burke lost to graduation, head coach Rod Dehaven says that Jackrabbit men will rely on the results of two athletes that did not compete last season.
Anthony Bongard and Michael Krsnak were the Jacks’ top two performers from the 2010 Summit League Championship season. Bongard was deployed to Kuwait, and Krsnak redshirted in hopes of preparing himself better for his senior season.
“We’ll get Anthony Bongard back from his deployment to Kuwait, and that should really help us,” DeHaven said. “He was a top-four finisher at the league meet before he left. It’s hard to predict where he’ll be when he gets back, but hopefully he can be a top-15 performer for us.”
The men will also look for strong performances from Summit League Newcomer of the Championship Trent Lusignan, who placed ninth at the Summit League meet last year as a freshman, and Jared Ailts, who was consistently one of the top three performers for the Jackrabbits at last year’s meets. The struggle for the men will once again be finding a consistent fifth runner that will improve the Jacks pack time, or time between their first and fifth finisher.
“If we want to be competitive next year, the margin of error won’t be great. Having four guys run well doesn’t do us a lot of good in team placing if that fifth runner doesn’t perform for us,” DeHaven said.
The women lost Burke, their only senior and top performer, to graduation, but will rely on a large group of seniors to help turn their program into a more serious competitive threat.
“Burke was a real pleasant surprise for us, but we’re going to get some great senior leadership from Tera Potts and Erin Hargens amongst others, and that will be huge for us,” DeHaven said.
The Jacks will also be looking for contributions from a group of young runners that made impressive strides during their freshman season at SDSU.
“That first year is really tough on a lot of runners. They aren’t used to competing at his level, and a lot of them aren’t used to having to do workouts quite like (our workouts), so that second year is usually where we see big improvements,” DeHaven said.
The women can expect Potts and Hargens to consistently be their top two runners, as well as Danielle McCann, Laura Wolles, and Courtney Neubert.
Both the men and women can expect to be aided by the departure of Southern Utah from the Summit League, and DeHaven said that both teams can expect to be in the top-three in the Summit League.