Men's Cross Country looks to build on top-10 finish at NCAAs
Dec. 12, 2012
The Texas Men's Cross Country team is coming off a ninth-place finish at last month's NCAA Championships and the future looks bright for a squad which will have a pair of All-Americans in the fold in 2013.
Texas finished in the top 10 despite losing sophomore Craig Lutz, an All-American last season, midway through the race due to injury.
The rest of the team picked up the slack and enabled the Longhorns to post their seventh top-10 finish in school history. It was also fourth-straight year the Longhorns have improved at the NCAA Championships.
Texas was 11th at the national meet last season, 26th in 2010 and tied for 28th in 2009. This year's finish was its best since 2006 (seventh).
Middle distance/distance coach John Hayes, who is in his fifth season, expects continued success in 2013.
"It's exciting to know that ninth place isn't good enough. It means we have come a long way," said Hayes, whose team reached as high as a program-best No. 5 in the regular season rankings.
The 2013 team will be led by Ryan Dohner, who earned All-America honors for finishing 19th at the 2012 NCAA Championships, and Lutz.
Dohner became the 18th cross-country All-American at Texas. Hayes credits the junior's competitive nature as the key to his success.
"He is just a gamer when it comes to championship time. He has proven that time and time again," said Hayes of Dohner who finished fourth overall at the NCAA South Central Regional.
Personal success aside, Dohner says it will be important for the 2013 seniors to take on the leadership role held by the departure of seniors Rory Tunningley, Kyle Merber and Patrick McGregor who finished 50th, 98th and 105th, respectively, at this year’s national meet.
"We will need to be more vocal and try to set good examples," Dohner said. "We need to make sure we are training with a hunger and thirst to improve."
Besides the leadership, which should come from the seniors and experienced runners like Dohner, Lutz and Mark Pinales, Hayes expects Texas to have a deep and talented team next fall. The team will have 15 returnees from the 2012 team, including six seniors.
"We are bringing the right kids into the program, especially now that we are consistently performing. The future is great," Hayes said. "We got a lot of young runners in the pipeline, and we are real excited."