DENTON, Tex. (9/7/07) - The North Texas cross-country team kicks off the 2007 season this weekend with its first meet of the year at the UTA Maverick Challenge. The 2007 season comes with high expectations, led by two time all-conference performer Frank Ngeno (Sr. Kapsabet, Kenya), who returns for his final season of cross-country eligibility.
The Mean Green return five runners from last year’s team, which finished 3rd at the Sun Belt Championships. The roster will include one senior, one junior, four sophomores and three freshman.
Billy Giano (Jr., Midland, TX), who has been a steady performer in each of his first two seasons, will team with Ngeno as the two upperclassmen lead a talented group of youngsters. Sophomore Brandon Cooper (So., Lewisville, TX) returns after a solid freshman season, where he was runner-up in the Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year poll.
Patrick Strong (Fr., Nelson, New Zealand) will put on the spikes for the first time as a collegiate Harrier, and the New Zealander hopes to provide some company at the top of the roster. Strong competed in the distance events on the track last spring for the Mean Green.
Tayo Harriman (So., McKinney, TX), also a first timer in cross-country, could make a big impact, coming off of a stellar track season in which he finished second in the 800 at the Outdoor Conference Meet last spring.
Matt Peters (So., Denton, TX), a finalist in the 800 Outdoors, and Daniel Holobowicz (So., Montgomery, TX) round out the sophomore class, as both were strong performers during their initial Cross-Country campaigns.
Newcomers Andrew Sumner (Fr., Jarrell, TX) and Joey Manning (Fr., Mansfield, TX) will look to continue their high school success at the collegiate level.
Sumner was a five-sport star at Jarrell, making three consecutive trips to the UIL Class 2A State Cross-Country Meet, while Manning finished 14th at the UIL Class 5A State Cross-Country Championships last fall.
“We have some very talented athletes on our roster, and we could have a real week-to-week battle for the top three spots on our team” said head coach Rick Watkins. “But in Cross-Country, you are only as good as your #5 runner, and that is the key for us. We have some depth on this roster and that will be a big advantage for us.”
The North Texas women will blend a host of newcomers in with a veteran squad, and the resulting mix is one that brings a lot of excitement.
Michelle Gallegos (Jr., Flower Mound, TX), was the top finisher for the Mean Green at last year’s Sun Belt Conference Championship, and will enter the season as one of the top runners. Phanice Orora (Jr., Nairobi, Kenya), finished just out of the top 25, and should provide some quality depth.
Ashley Sanders (Jr., Justin, TX), and Alex Sherwin (Jr., Lewisville, TX) make up the remainder of a solid group of returners that are poised to take the women to new heights .
A strong group of newcomers will push the veterans, and could make the race for the top spot interesting. Sallie Anderson (FR., Mansfield, TX) was a two-time UIL Class 5A Regional qualifier, and Emily Sotello (Fr., Crowley, TX) was the District 8-5A Champion in addition to her duties as a standout on Crowley’s Soccer team, which went deep into the playoffs.
Jessica Torres (So, Tr., Decatur, TX (Abilene Christian) was a Division II National Qualifier in Cross-Country last season, finishing 134th at the National Meet.
Tara Piles (FR., Allen, TX ) and Dana Flynn (Fr., Dallas, TX) will add needed depth and could make an impact as the Mean Green Ladies look to climb back into the upper echelon of Sun Belt Conference Teams.
“Our roster is much deeper this year, and I think that we will be a much improved team”. said head coach Rick Watkins. “This group has a lot of potential, and I am excited to see what they can accomplish. We have the talent to be a top tier program in the Sun Belt Conference.”