William & Mary, the only Virginia Division I men's team with realistic NCAA Nationals aspirations will be given an early season test against a handful of nationally ranked squads. Several of the top 30 ranked teams in the latest Division I National Poll will be competing against the Tribe at Paul Short including #7 Georgetown and #13 Villanova. Princeton and Yale also received votes in the pre-season poll. However, the Tribe will run a split squad and sit out the likes of Lou Onesty Invitational top finisher Jeff Hedley and junior Matt Keally, while a handful of others will be making their season debuts. Running in their first collegiate meets will be some of the Tribe's prized freshmen in Christo Landry (Thomas Jefferson ST/Alexandria, VA), David Groff (Westfield HS/Chantilly, VA), and Dave Mock (Johnston, PA), while returnees David Murphy (2003 CAA Rookie of the Year) and Adam Tenerowicz will be running their first race of the season as well.
Liberty University possesses an individual race contender in freshmen Josh McDougal who has had instant success for the flames as he won his first two collegiate meets at the Festival in the Fields (Virginia Tech) and Lou Onesty Invitational. One of the top high school preps last year, McDougal seems to be making a very smooth transition to the collegiate level of competition.
University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University are two Division I squads that look to prove that they are vastly improved from a year ago with some solid newcomers.
Sophomore John Cicarrelli leads the Richmond Spiders, a very young squad that will run 7 freshmen along with Cicarrelli and junior Pat Barkhuff at Paul Short. Cicarrelli ran 25:12 for 8000 meters last year as a freshmen, while Barkhuff ran 15:20 and 31:56 for the 5K and 10K respectively last spring in track.
Virginia Commonwealth University has revamped their roster with some talented freshmen, transfers, and foreign imports. The Rams were able to land Steven Walters, one of Virginia's best cross country runners last fall. Walters could very well run in the #1 spot for VCU for the majority this season. Walters was also able to get his buddy Mike Stoop, an all-state runner at Bayside High School, to transfer over from East Carolina University. From Poland, Lukasz Matusiewicz and Mariusz Mostrag add further depth to the VCU team.
Two of Virginia's top Division III squads as well as two of the best in Division III South/Southeast Region will be competing alongside the Division I squads at Paul Short in Christopher Newport University and Lynchburg College.
Christopher Newport University, is a team that is on the verge of cracking into top 25 national rankings for Division III. In the latest rankings, the CNU men were ranked #26 with nine national votes. The Paul Short Invite will be an excellent shot for the Captains to make a statement to move into top 25 position with three nationally ranked Division III squads competing in the meet with #9 Haverford College (PA), #10 College of New Jersey, and #15 New York University set to compete. The Captains will be competing with a very youthful squad as their top five runners are comprised of all underclassmen. The team is led by sophomore Cary Chaffee, who ran a solid time of 25:38 at Paul Short one year ago. However, the Captains will be competing a man down as 2003 South/Southeast Region Co-Freshmen of the Year Brandon Miles will sit out his second consecutive meet as he recovers from IT band problems.
Lynchburg College is squad that has dramatically improved from a year ago thanks to an excellent recruiting class. The Hornets finished second to CNU at Lebanon Valley and look to be a squad that could challenge for a top two finish at the NCAA Regional Meet and advance to NCAA Nationals. Senior Brian Flynn, a 2003 NCAA Nationals qualifier, leads the squad after running a personal best 8K time of 26:25 at JMU last weekend. The remaining Lynchburg top five is comprised of all freshmen in Travis Wray (MD), Brad O'Neil (Stuarts Draft HS/Waynesboro, VA), Matt Carlton (Douglas Freeman HS, Richmond, VA), and Bryan Kirby (Thomas Edison HS, Alexandria, VA). The Hornets could further improve their status in the region with a strong run by their freshmen heavy squad at Paul Short.