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- 25th
Key Returners from 2012
- Marielle Hall (Sr., 4:20 1500m, 16:22 5k, 23rd NCAA XC '12, 1st So. Region '12)
- Sara Sutherland (Sr., 4:18 1500m, 9:18 Open 3k, 16:04 5k, 34:28 10k)
- Megan Siebert (Sr., 9:48 Open 3k, 16:50 5k, 35:55 10k)
- Brittany Marches (Sr., 10:30 3k Steeple)
- Rachel Harper (So., 7th NXN '11, 3 X NXN Qualifier)
- Olivia Mickle (Sr., From Brown, 16:21 5k, 33:29 10k)
- Meghan Shea (Redshirt Frosh, 4:54 1500m, 10:55 3200m)
Newly minted coach Brad Herbster is a lucky man. Not only does he take over a very-high profile program at a big-time university, but he is inheriting a very good group of athletes with two of the better distance runners in the NCAA.
The good news is that the consistent top three from last year's team are all back for their senior years and have very quality experience and no lack of motivation to improve and finish off their careers with a bang.
Texas has a very good 1-2 punch returning that literally went 1-2 at the South Central Regional in 2012.
Marielle Hall is the returning region champion and is a likely All-American. She provides veteran leadership, toughness and is a big-time competitor. Her solid track PRs do not give her justice in terms of what she is capable of out on the cross country course. Hall could be looking at a top-15 individual finish, which would be a huge low-stick for the Longhorns.
The other part of the two-headed monster Texas returns is senior Sara Sutherland. Having the best track PRs on the team gives reason to believe that she also has the most upside as a cross country runner on this team. Sutherland is definitely talented enough to be All-American in 2013 as well as Hall. Two All-Americans for Texas in 2013 would be huge and is a big part of their ranking being this high.
Another part of the picture for the Longhorns is quality returner Megan Siebert. Being a true cross country runner, Siebert brings experience and a desire to close off her career right. Siebert has good PRs on the track and is an All-Conference and All-Region performer in cross country.
A huge pickup, from a recruiting perspective, for the Longhorns comes from Brown transfer Olivia Mickle. Her 33:29 10k PR is really good and she gives Texas the depth that they really need to be the quality of team they can be this season. With Mickle joining Sutherland and Hall up-front, she adds another potential All-American to this squad.
Texas also brings back five of their top seven from Nationals and Regionals and the likes of Kendall Howen, Brittany Marches, Jessica and Rachel Harper will be key contributors as scorers.
If the Longhorns can find a solid fifth girl out of that bunch mentioned above, there is a reason why the are predicted this high. Three potential All-Americans, a brand new coach, and a core of girls returning from 2012 (not counting Hall, Sutherland and Siebert), Texas is much better than they look on paper.
They might be as deep as some of the other teams highlighted before, but there are only a few schools in the NCAA that have a possibility of three girls placing in the top 40 and that is what makes them dangerous.