2004 Virginia Division III College Men\'s XC Preview

Christopher Newport University will enter the 2004 Cross Country season with a giant target on their backs and they wouldn't have it any other way. CNU ended the 2003 as the king of the mountain in Virginia Division III Cross Country dominating both the Mason Dixon and USA Conference meets as well as placing in the runner up slot at the NCAA South/South East Regional meet. At the Regional meet, the Captains placed four runners (Brandon Miles, Jim Highsmith, Cary Chaffee and David Baer) on the All Region team with freshman Tim Scott a mere six seconds off an All Region spot himself. Miles and Chaffee won a Conference title each with Miles taking the Mason Dixon Title and Chaffee winning the USA South Meet. At the USA South Meet, CNU took 11 of the 14 All Conference Spots and seven of those runners return this year. They are Chaffee, Miles, Highsmith, Nate Wallace, Baer, Scott and David Barham.

Coach Maurer worked his magic again and recruited a formidable freshmen class. Giving CNU an additional boost will be recruits J.R. Tucker's Jay Wyss, Grafton's Daniel Swale, Hayfield's Sean Riley and Kellam's Jason Myers. Wyss, Swale and Riley all have 3,200 PRs of under 10:00. Wyss in particular looks to challenge for the top spot on CNU's squad after posting a blazing 9:32 3,200 to earn All State honors in Virginia Class AAA as well as a 15:25 for a 5K during the summer. With the additional of these strong freshmen to the core veteran group, Christopher Newport University has set itself up to not only to retain the title of best in Virginia, but also to make a run at the Regional Title and advance to the National Championship held in Wisconsin.

Looking to set up a road block will be Mason Dixon Conference rival University of Mary Washington. UWM placed second at the Capital Athletic Conference and third at the Mason Dixon Conference behind CNU and Maryland's Salisbury University. Leading UWM will be All Region runners Matt Kirk and Todd Kronenberg who both had outstanding track seasons posting sub 15:30 marks in the 5000 with Kronenberg also going 4 flat in the 1500 and M. Kirk 32:17.39 in the 10000 (the fastest 10K for a Virginia DIII runner). Looking to help UMW move up in the field will be Seniors Graeme Joeck & Jake Rod, Junior Jason Call, and Sophomores Doug Axelrod, George Winslow, Craig Condon, & Rich Bates. Adding some backup will be transfer Justin Kirk, and freshmen Matt Downs (St. Christopher), Tim Jones (Caroline HS), and Luke Wolverton (MD). Downs is a Virginia Private School All State runner who helped his St. Christopher's squad win the State Title while J. Kirk has posted a 34:58 10,000 during the summer months.

Also looking to battle out for in-state supremacy will be a trio of schools from the ODAC Conference. Washington and Lee University, Lynchburg College and Roanoke College will all make strong bids this year. However, the team to really watch of the three will be Washington and Lee University as the 2004 version of the Generals will be a completely different squad than the underwhelming 2003 version. For starters, Coach Tucker regains the services of 2002 All Region and ODAC Champion Wes Bell who was studying abroad at Oxford last year. In 2002 Bell was a mere place away from earning a trip to the National competition. Also running for the first time in a WLU uniform in Cross Country will be Nathan Johnson, a William and Mary transfer. Johnson was arguably the best DIII distance runner in Virginia winning both the 1500 and 5000 at the ODAC Championship while posting the region's best time in the Steeplechase (9:36). Johnson also had best times of 4:02 in the 1500 and 15:16 for the 5000. Add Senior Steve Chambers (2002 All region runner), who ran a 15:29 in the 5000 during the outdoor season, to the mix and WLU has a formidable top three.

Making WLU a true contender though will be the state's strongest incoming freshmen class (a class that will rival CNU's 2003 frosh class). Looking to break into the top five for WLU looks to be Illinois All-State runner Alex Mahoney (a runner who spent several months in Singapore) who has ran 15:45 in XC, Virginia Class AA All-State Runner Andrew Friski, Footlocker Northeast Senior Race Champion Tom Bower (making WLU the second Division III school in Virginia to recruit a Footlocker Champion) and Ben Stinson from Ohio. All four of these runners have sub 17:00 5K personal best times. Adding depth to the team will be recruits "Jack" Joeng, Mitchell Ward, Arie George, Steve Rivoir and Kevin Donavan (a WLU legacy).

Roanoke College will definitely put up a fight to prevent Washington and Lee (and arch-rival Lynchburg) from taking the ODAC title away from them. Leading the way will be All ODAC runners Eric Johnson, Zack Tembi and Will Justice along with Matt Kirkland. However, with the loss of National qualifier Jacob Pack and All ODAC runner Rob Welch, Roanoke will be looking to their recruits to fill in one to two spots in their top five. Lynchburg is the third team mentioned from the ODAC trio. While Lynchburg does return the top Virginia Cross Country runner in National Qualifier Brian Flynn, the hornets will be highly dependant on their freshmen to lead the team this year. LaPlata's Travis Wray (Maryland All State performer), Stuarts Draft\'s Brad O\'Neill, Douglas Freeman's Matt Carlton, and Manchester's Josh Napoleon will have to step up to plate right off the bat. If junior Kevin Graves can return to his 2002 All Region ability this year, LC might be able to edge out Roanoke and Washington & Lee if either team faulters at the ODAC Conference meet.

Individual Rankings – Returnees:

1. Brian Flynn, Lynchburg College – Flynn qualified for the national competition with his 6th place finish at the Regional competition, earning All Region Honors in the process. Flynn earned All ODAC honors during the outdoor season and ran the fastest 5K time by a Virginia runner in 2003 with his 15:11.81 clocking.
2. Matt Kirk, University of Mary Washington – Kirk earned All Region honors and placed second at the Capitol Athletic Conference. Kirk had the second fastest 10K time in the region with his 31:17 clocking. He also has a swift 5000 PR of 15:22.79. Kirk won the outdoor Mason Dixon Conference 5000 race and placed second at the CAC Conference 5000.
3. Cary Chaffee, Christopher Newport University – Chaffee earned All Region and is the USA South Conference Champion as well as the Mason Dixon Conference runner up. Chaffee posted Personal best times of 3:58.60 (1500) and 15:29.59 (5000) during the outdoor track season.
4. Brandon Miles, Christopher Newport University – Miles earned All Region and is the Mason Dixon Conference Champion as well as the USA South Conference runner up. Miles posted the second fastest time in the 10,000 with his time of 33:23 (the third fastest 10K time ever for CNU) during the outdoor track season. Miles is also the Mason Dixon Conference 10K Champion.
5. Todd Kronenberg, University of Mary Washington – Kronenberg earned All Region honors and All Capitol Athletic Conference honors in Cross Country. In track, Kronenberg posted quick times of 4:00.39 for the 1500 and 15:24.68 for the 5000. Kronenberg is also the 1500 CAC Champion.

Runners to Watch:

1. Nathan Johnson, Washington and Lee University – Nathan Johnson was the dominate distance runner in the ODAC Conference winning the Championship meet MVP award after his victories in the 1500 and 5000. Some could even argue he was the best Distance runner in Virginia with his P.R.s of 4:02.97 (1500), 15:16 (5K), and 9:29.36 (Steeple). Johnson will definitely challenge for the title of best runner in Virginia Division III and maybe even best runner in the South/Southeast Region.
2. Jay Wyss, Christopher Newport University – Wyss is looking like the top recruit in both Virginia and the Region right now after his stellar outdoor track season and a recent Road Race 5K where he posted a personal best 15:25. Wyss earned All State honors in what was the fastest 3,200 final in the history of the Virginia Class AAA State Meet. Wyss's P.R.s are 4:22.31 (1600), 9:27.02 (3,200), 15:25 (Road), and 16:01 (XC)
3. Wes Bell, Washington and Lee University – Not much is known about Bell's current fitness level, but this much IS known. Bell has talent as was shown his freshman year when he captured the ODAC 1500 title and then in 2002 when he posted a 26:16 to place 9th at the South/Southeast Regional meet, a mere place off earning a ticket to the national meet.
4. Alex Mahoney, Washington and Lee University – Mahoney is a top self recruit for Coach Tucker. Mahoney spent time in Singapore recently, but when he was at home in the states he was an All State performer in Illinios posting an impressive 15:45 at his State Meet.
5. Travis Wray, Lynchburg College – LaPlata's Travis Wray is on this list not so much for his P.R.s but for his versatility and ability to win. At his SMAC conference Championship meet Wray ran the 4x800, 800, 1600 and 3200 winning all but the 800 (in which he was the runner up). Wray followed that performance up by earning Maryland All State honors in the 3,200. Wray has P.R.s of 4:23 (1600) and 9:53 (3,200).

Team Rankings

1. Christopher Newport University
2. University of Mary Washington
3. Washington and Lee University
4. Roanoke College
5. Lynchburg College