Monday, August 19, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Men's #12- Texas

Editor's note: For the next month, The Wood Report will be counting down projected team finishes in this year's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

Head Coach: Brad Herbster (1st Season)
2012 National Finish- 9th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Craig Lutz (Jr., 3:49 1500m, 8:07 Open 3k, 14:00 5k, 29:22 10k)
  • Ryan Dohner (Sr., 3:46 1500m, 7:58 Open 3k, 13:45 5k, 29:05 10k)
  • Daniel Vertiz (So., 14:20 5k, 29:55 10k)
  • Mark Pinales (Jr., 14:30 5k, 29:40 10k)
  • Brady Turnbull (So., 3:47 1500m)
  • Will Nation (Sr., 14:06 5k, 29:33 10k)
Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Nate Moore (Redshirt Frosh, 5:56 2k Steeple (US Jr. record)
Season Preview

Around Austin, Texas now-a-days things are a little bit different than they were in 2012. A new head coach, new cross country coach, and maybe of the leaders from the team last season are gone. Brad Herbster is now the man in charge and has been given a great crop of athletes to work with to get them ready to roll in 2013 and back to Terre Haute. 

The Longhorns do lose a good chunk of their depth from 2012 to graduation (Tunningley, McGregor, Merber, Van Ackeren, etc), but they have some guys waiting in the wings to take their place and fill the roles needed for Texas to be successful this season. 

Ryan Dohner and Craig Lutz are the leaders of this squad and are both potential top 10-15 finishers at NCAAs this year. 

Dohner has been one of the most consistent distance runners in the country for the past few seasons and is always in the mix up front in every race he is in. He might have struggled a bit toward the end of the outdoor track season,  but it was a long 2011-2012 for him and this summer was definitely needed for Dohner. He was very busy running well early during xc in 2012 where he finished 19th overall in Louisville. His third place finish at Big 12 Outdoors this spring was solid and the wheels came off a little at NCAAs. No matter, Dohner is for real and is a vital low-stick for the Longhorns. 

Craig Lutz is the complete opposite of Dohner from 2012. Lutz for the most part had a good cross country season, but an injury forced him to end his NCAA run early. The good news for Lutz is that he was able to turn around his year by ending it off with the best race of his career at NCAA outdoors in the 10k. His third place finish was astounding and surprised many of people in the country. He placed himself among the top-tier distance guys in the country and will have the opportunity to atone for his unfortunate XC Nats from 2012, this upcoming season. 

Daniel Vertiz, the prep star, is now one year older and more experienced and should be able to provide some quality depth in the top five and is their likely no. 3. His track PRs from 2012 are good and proof that he is capable of doing some good things out on the xc course. 

Mark Pinales is a quality middle pack guy who is experienced and will provide stability with his consistent running. Pinales had made good strides every year and if he continues to progress he could have a breakout season. 

Will Nation is the wildcard of this team because of his redshirt year last season, he might not be in the minds of many when they think of Texas' squad this year. He has very good track PRs and seemingly has the ability to roll with Pinales and Vertiz, if not be a legitimate no. 3 for the Longhorns. 

With all of these things considered, Texas is still going to be good even after the loss of some serious studs. The returning region champs from 2012, the Longhorns have some work to do to defend their title over Arkansas, but with some great front-running and some nice depth, the Brad Herbster is looking to have a very successful first year at the helm in Austin. 

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