Virginia's Division III Men Cross Country Preview

The top division III cross country program in the state last fall was Lynchburg College by a hair. While Emory College (Atlanta, Georgia) dominated last year's NCAA DIII Southeast regional cross country meet, Lynchburg (87 points) finished second in last November's race as they were two points ahead of fellow Virginia school, Christopher Newport University. This year's battle for state supremacy seems to be once again a two team fight between the Hornets and Captains.

Lynchburg lost four runners due to graduation from last year's team, which won the Old Dominion Athletic Conference as well as garner a runner-up finish at the regional meet. One of those graduation loses includes Greg Useem, a pivotal front leader for the Hornets, who was an individual national qualifer a year ago. However, the Hornets do return four All-Conference runners including defending champion Brian Tullock and runner-up Matt McCarroll. Tullock (21st, 26:38.02) and McCarroll (22nd, 26:38.09) both had solid regional races along with rising sophomore Kevin Graves (20th, 26:34.08). Tullock also had a strong track season where he clocked a 15:42 for the 5K during the outdoor track season. Brian Flynn (regions 39th, 27:04) rounds out a solid top four for Lynchburg as he ran a 15:55 5K indoors, but also leaves them searching for a solid fifth runner. This question mark leaves Lynchburg vulnerable for other teams to surpass them this fall. However, Coach Toms will make sure his troops are ready and five strong when November rolls around to put his team in contention once again.

Christoper Newport University is one of those teams that could surpass Lynchburg this fall as while they took two losses from last year's third place regional team, they refueled well with their best recruiting class in school history. Gone from last year's Dixie Conference (now USA South Athletic Conference) championship team are 2001 All-American and regional champion Matt Sinclair due to graduation and top five runner Chris White, who transferred to VCU.

However, Coach Maurer had a successful year on the recruiting trail as he brings in two high school all-state caliber athletes in Cary Chaffee and Brandon Miles along with a handful of other solid recruits. Chaffee, who starred at Hermitage High School, earned all-state honors last fall with a fifth place finish in the AAA state meet cross country race and earned all-state honors for a second time in outdoor track for the 1600 meter run. Chaffee boasts personal bests of 16:05 in the 5K and 4:20 for the 1600 meter run. Miles has similar high school times to that of Chaffee with a best of 9:23 in the 3200 meter run and 15:51 for the 5K. Miles, who ran at Midlothian High School. was all-state in cross country (14th place) and broke the senior race record at the Foot Locker South regional meet. Tim Scott from James River, another star recruit for the Captains, clocked a 4:24 for the 1600 meter run outdoors. All three recruits have the capability to make an immediate impact on the squad as well as in the region.

They will have great guidance and leadership from a strong returning cast including junior Jimmy Highsmith, who qualified for the national meet at last year's regional meet with a fourth place finish (25:46.05). Highsmith had a strong track campaign as well, where he clocked a 15:24 5K as well as a school record 3K steeple chase record of 9:45 outdoors. David Baer, a fellow sub 10 3K steeple junior (:57.30), returns as a top 20 finisher from last year's regional meet (18th, 26:27.09). CNU's Jason Berry was a conference champion indoors and outdoors in the 800 meter run as well as one of the region's best during the outdoor track season in the event (1:54.5 season best), but also has great range to run the 8K as shown with his regional race last November (33rd, 26:53.07). With returnees Highsmith, Baer, and Berry to mesh with incoming recruits Chaffee, Miles, and Scott, Christopher Newport could have possibly the winning formula to make a run at stealing the regional title from defending champs Emory on their home course this November.

Washington & Lee University is a team to pay special attention to this fall since everyone took them for granted last year, only for the Generals to suprise all at the ODAC meet and regional meet. Last year's squad edged out Roanoke College for runner-up honors behind Lynchburg at ODAC, then went onto finishing a strong fifth at the regional meet. From that squad, they return three individuals who earned All-Region honors including Wes Bell, who finished ninth (26:16.09) in last year's race. Along with Bell, Andy Schorr (12th, 26:20.05) and Steve Chambers (25th, 26:43.02) return as All-Region performers. However, a wide gap lingers after Chambers to their #4 and #5 runners which was a nearly a full minute at last year's regional meet. This gap will need to be addressed in order for Washington & Lee University to challenge the likes of Lynchburg and Christopher Newport.

Roanoke College lingers as a darkhorse amongst the other DII state teams, as rumors circulate about talented transfers coming to join the Maroons squad this fall. Regardless of the rumors are true or not, Coach Pincus returns six of their top seven runners from last year's team, which finished sixth at the regional meet. Pacing the Maroons will be senior Rob Welch, who just missed out on advancing to nationals last fall (11th at regions, 26:20.01). Welch performed well on the track, where he clocked a best of 9:56.1 in the 3000 meter steeplechase and a 4:04.5 in the 1500 meter run. Senior Jacob Pack (26th, 26:44.01), senior Rich Egger (40th, 27:04.04), and junior Will Justice (27:22.04) will be depended on to provide Welch with support.

Coach Soper returns a healthy number of runners from last year's Mary Washington team despite the graduation of top runner Nate Brooks. Rising sophomore Jason Call leads Mary Washington College as the top returnee from last year's regional meet (31st, 26:52.05) with rising senior Dustin Yudowitch (37th, 26:59) not too far behind. Todd Kronenberg looks to make for a solid three for the Eagles (53rd regions, 27:36.05) after posting a 4:05.77 1500 meter time outdoors. Graeme Joeck, Clint Enos, Ryan Bayne, and incoming recruit Doug Axelrod from Herndon (9:51 3200m) will be counted on to give Coach Soper the formidable top five he needs.