2011 Bronco Cross Country Season Preview

Entering their first season with the Mountain West, the Boise State cross country teams look to bridge their recent successes from the Western Athletic Conference to their new conference affiliate. The Bronco men, who won the 2010 WAC team championship, and the Bronco women begin their 2011 journey on Saturday, Sept. 10 at the fourth annual Roger Curran Invitational, one of three meets run in the Treasure Valley.

The second local meet, the Bob Firman Invitational, will be run just two weeks later on Saturday, Sept. 24, followed by the Coyote Invitational hosted by College of Idaho on Oct. 7. Although there are a handful of local meets, the Broncos add two regular season road meets that are critical to their schedule.

Splitting the squad on Sept. 24, assistant coach for cross country and distance, Brad Wick, will take his top runners to the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minn., while the remainder of the Broncos stay to compete in the local favorite, Bob Firman Invitational. The second and final regular season road trip for the orange and blue falls on Oct. 15, when they head to Sunnyvale, Calif., to race at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational.

"Our team will be really focused on the Roy Griak and Santa Clara Invites this year," said Wick. "They are two big meets to get ready for and will help us the most in preparing for the post-season."

Looking at the post-season schedule, Boise State heads to Fort Collins, Colo., for the 2011 Mountain West Championships on Oct. 29, while penciling in trips to Palo Alto, Calif., for the 2011 NCAA West Regional Championships on Nov. 12 and Terre Haute, Ind., for the NCAA National Championships on Nov. 21.

Carrying the responsibility of ongoing success for the programs are very young men's and women's teams. The men feature two sophomores and 11 freshmen, while the women boast one senior, four juniors, 19 sophomores and 11 freshmen.

"Both of our teams are really young this year," said Wick. "Although it is a rebuilding year, we still have a lot of talent and will do well. We are further along as a team than we were a year ago, despite the youth."

For the men, Wick and head coach for track and field and cross country coach J.W. Hardy both expect returners Allan Schroeder and Drew O'donoghue-McDonald to lead the pack.

"Allan and Drew both had really great training summers and we expect them to be the team leaders," said Wick.

Looking to make an immediate impact in the top-seven are freshmen Vince Hamilton, John Robinson and Jared Lehning who had a good showing at the team's preseason time trial.

For the women, Emma Bates looks to lead the way, returning as the 2010 WAC Freshman of the Year. Helping in a leadership role will be the lone senior Melody Braden who will give experience to the young team. Included in the leadership role will be the junior class who will combine with a talented sophomore class.

"We have six of our top-seven returning from last season," said Wick. "We should be much improved with that year of experience under our belts."

Young returners include Marisa VanderMalle, who redshirted her freshman season but promises to be a top-seven contender. Tessa Murray, Alyssa Boucher and Sarah Bisterfeldt were regulars in the lineup in 2010 and return stronger for their sophomore campaigns. Taryn Treadway and Rici Morrill look to move into the top-seven spots after floating just outside in 2010.

"Taryn and Rici have made great improvements over the summer," said Wick. "They are both definitely contenders for the top-seven this season."

Wick and Hardy are also excited about a talented group of 11 freshmen women who are joining the roster this season.

"We have a great freshman class who is ahead of where our 2010 freshman class was last season," said Wick. "It will make our team that much stronger. I am particularly impressed with Hayley Gregoire who will be looking to make the travel squad."

With a challenging road schedule and a handful of meets in the Treasure Valley, the Broncos are hopeful of another successful season. Overall the men's and women's teams have put in hard work over the summer to return at a higher level for the 2011 season.

"With all their hard off-season training, we really feel the bar has been raised for both programs this season," said Wick.

» «