TCU Cross Country Teams Set to Kick Off 2005 Season
Sept. 1, 2005
FORT WORTH, Texas (Sept. 1, 2005) - Youth, energy and expectations abound for the TCU men's and women's cross country teams, who open the 2005 season on Friday night at the Baylor Bears Relays. Despite the fact that just three of the 21 men and women are older than sophomores, coach Patrick Cunniff is encouraged by his teams' chances this fall.
"We have a great group of kids who are really working hard," Cunniff said. "There is a lot of enthusiasm and intensity, and I'm excited about the possibilities. It should be a fun season."
Both squads are looking to place among the top half at the Mountain West Conference Championships, and have their sights set on top-five finishes at the NCAA Central Regional. Prior to those meets, TCU will compete in four tune-up events, beginning on Friday in Waco. TCU fans will also be able to watch the Frogs compete locally at the UTA Invitational in Arlington on Sept. 10 and the North Texas Invitational in Denton on Oct. 1.
"As we always do, we will train through our meets over the first month of the season," Cunniff said. "Our goal is to be peaking in October and November. We have a lot of work and development to do from now until then."
The TCU women's primary challenge will be to replace two-time South Central Regional champion and school-record holder Mary Kinyanjui, who finished her career at the NCAAs last year. However, this TCU team has a tremendous amount of potential and more depth than many Horned Frog squads in the past.
Headlining the squad is sophomore Calandra Stewart, a second-team all-Conference USA selection last year. The NCAA cross country participant, whose fastest time in the 6K last year was 20:59, has returned with renewed vigor after missing an NCAA Regional outdoor appearance by 3/10ths of a second in May.
Currently running in the two and three spots are former Cedar Park (Texas) High School teammates Halie Bullin and Cassie Hostick. Both had impressive freshman seasons and will be relied on heavily in 2005. Bullin's best time in the 6K last year was 21:34, while Hostick's 21:51 in the South Central Regional was her top finish.
Two other experienced runners are senior Katrina Zielinksi, who has also bested the 22-minute mark during her TCU career, and sophomore McKale Davis, the Frogs' sixth-place finisher at both the conference and regional events. Both had disappointing seasons in 2004, but have bounced back with strong training in preparation for this fall.
Two others who figure to factor in the team's success are freshmen Ashley Young (Lewisville, Texas) and Alyson Travato (Cedar Park, Texas). Young is a talented athlete who missed her senior season due to injury, while Travato blossomed into a top runner late in her prep career. In addition, freshmen Shannon Andrew, Amanda Foust and Leilani Taylor add depth to the squad.
Perennial power and multi-time national champion BYU is the cream of the Mountain West crop. The conference, which is solid from top to bottom, also features 2004 NCAA participant Colorado State.
Leading the way for the men is senior stalwart Kip Kangogo, who claimed six Conference USA individual championships in indoor and outdoor track events last year. He is among a select group of individuals across the nation who have the chance to compete for a national championship. Kangogo, who sat out the 2004 season due to NCAA transfer rules, returns to the Mountain West, where he won individual cross country championships in 2002 and 2003 as a member of the BYU Cougars.
Fellow senior Jackson Langat returns after missing the 2004 cross country campaign due to injury. Though Langat is strongest in middle distance track events, he was the team's number one runner two seasons ago and was second-team all-Conference USA. The talented Kenyan's return helps improve the squad's overall depth.
Making a push for the number two spot on the team is sophomore Matt Manly, who worked extremely hard in the offseason. He had a solid freshman campaign after adjusting to the longer cross country course. His best 8K time last year was 26:15.
The core of the team lies in the sophomore class. In addition to Manly, classmates Steve Solazzo and Cody Cook had very strong summer training programs. Solazzo will look to improve on his 29:15 time in the 8K, while Cook also figures to shave time off his 28:28 effort.
Both will figure into the mix along with Houston Bolin, Brett McKnight, Alex Morris and J.T. Reinert, all of whom have a season of collegiate running experience under their belts. A pair of freshmen, Michael Garcia and Ben Rogahn, round out the crew.
The competition at the conference level is fierce on the men's side. Of the six MWC schools that sponsor cross country, four--Air Force, BYU, Colorado State and New Mexico--competed at last year's NCAA Championships.
Cross Country Schedule