CROSS COUNTRY OPENS SEASON AT UC DAVIS ON SATURDAY
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Two seasons ago, the Sacramento State cross country program saw two of its student-athletes earn all-Big Sky honors and the team have success on its home course at the Big Sky Championships. After a rebuilding season last year, the Hornets are poised to move into the upper half of the league in 2008.
Under the direction of cross country coach Scott Abbott, who was hired just prior to the start of last season, Sacramento State is looking for its highest team finish at the Big Sky Championships in school history. The women’s team features five returners and has added four transfers that will make an impact.
Leading the returners is junior Kristina Holtz who was seventh two seasons ago at the Big Sky meet before redshirting last season. Holtz continued her distance work during the track season and starred in the steeplechase where she earned all-West Region and all-Big Sky honors as well as destroying the school record in the event.
Sophomore Renisha Robinson will look to follow up a strong freshman season in which she led the team in three meets. Robinson also had success during the track season, qualifying for US Junior Nationals in the 800.
“Renisha had a very busy track season so we are going to bring her along slowly,” Abbott said. “She had a great season for a freshman last year and will look to build upon that.”
Senior Erin Wachter is the veteran of the group and has been named team captain. Wachter led the Hornets in three meets last year, including the NCAA West Regional.
“Erin put in her work over the summer and is in outstanding shape,” Abbott said. “She’s steady and solid and has earned the right to be captain.”
Other returners to the team include Jodi Leal and Lora Marchini who both made their debut last season. Leal scored for the team at the Big Sky Outdoor Championships in the steeplechase and, according to Abbott, “has made the biggest improvement on the team.” Marchini was in the lineup for all six meets last year.
Four transfers will add unprecedented depth to the team this season. Caprice Bradshaw, a transfer from New Mexico State, and Erin Lewis, a transfer from Oregon, will likely make the biggest impact during the season, according to Abbott. Cal Poly transfer Lea Wallace and Jenni Eiremo, a transfer from Iona, could also compete for a spot in the lineup.
“I’m really excited,” Abbott said. “Depth creates competition which helps push the athletes. This also promotes a team performance in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”
The men’s team returns the majority of its runners from a year ago and also brings back all-Big Sky honoree Dominic Vogl. In 2006, Vogl placed 10th at the Big Sky Championships to earn the award but redshirted last season.
In Vogl’s absence, Colin Szehner was the team’s most consistent performer, finishing first or second on the squad in four of his five meets. Both Vogl and Szehner also had success during the outdoor season as both scored in the steeplechase and Szehner also scored in the 5K.
Fellow senior Danny Carlson is also back and has earned the title of team captain.
“Dom, Colin and Danny all moved to Mammoth for nine weeks this summer to train,” Abbott said. “That shows how dedicated they are to making their senior season special.”
Another key factor for the team will be Scott Grose. The Marrieta, Ohio, native paced the squad in the final two meets last season and returns in good shape. The team will also received help from Jason Sey and Garrett Infausto.
According to Abbott, the top newcomer will be freshman Chris Romo who comes from nearby Woodcreek HS.
The Hornets open their season on Sept. 6 at the Aggie Open hosted by UC Davis. The following weekend Sacramento State will host the annual Hornet Jamboree at Granite Regional Park. The Big Sky Championships will take place in Portland, Ore., on Nov. 1.