Men's Pac-12 Championship Preview

The lock that the men from Oregon and Stanford (first or second every year) have had in the Pac-10 team race the last five years will likely be broken by Colorado when they contest the first Pac-12 title. This year Colorado and Stanford return six of their top seven runners from last year's NCAA meet with more that have NCAA experience that did not run at the meet.

Last year Stanford and Oregon finished well ahead of the competition and it is likely Stanford and Colorado will finish well ahead this year. Oregon only returns two of last year's five finishing runners from the NCAA meet and two others that ran at the Pac-10 meet. My early (some runners have not run or run to their ability yet) predictions for the national championship meet have Colorado third (if Bosshard runs), Stanford fourth, Oregon sixtenth and Arizona 17th (if last year's runner-up, Sambu, runs).

Team (NCAA competitors) 2010 ('10) NCAA returners, team finish, 2009 ('09) NCAA returners, team finish, '10 Pac-10 finish, Athletes listed in expected NCAA finish (# is ranking on team for the meet) with previous finishes and West Region (W Reg) finish if they did not run at the NCAA meet.

Colorado - Dominating win at Pre-Nationals without their top runner Bosshard. Wacker and Medina finished ahead of two top-30 finishers from last year, Jonathan Davis of UC Davis (14th), Michael Fout of Florida State (25th) and Trevor Dunbar of Portland (28th) and the 14th place finisher from 2009 (Alfred Kipchumba of Portland).

Returners - (7), 6 from '10 NCAA team that finished 15th and 5 from 2009 NCAA team that finished 6th, second at 2010 Big 12 conference:

?Joe Bosshard Jr (26th in '10 - #1), Andrew Wacker rSr (37th in '10 - #2), Richard Medina rSr (57th in '09, injured last year), Christian Thompson Sr (90th in '10 - #3 and 44th in '09 - #1), Ammar Moussa Fr (14:11 5k XC and 14:05.79 5k), Blake Theroux Jr, Martin Medina Jr, Aric VanHalen Jr (177th in '10 - #5), Cameron Clayton Sr (#6 in 2010) and Matt Beigner Jr (#7 in 2010)

Stanford - Stanford has plenty of depth but a third place finish behind #1 Wisconsin and #9 BYU indicate this will not be a great season for them (#1 ranked the last two seasons) or they will round into shape and compete for national title.

Returners - (7), 6 from '10 NCAA team that finished fourth place and 3 from '09 NCAA team that finished tenth, won 2010 Pac-10:

Chris Derrick Sr (3x top seven at NCAA - #1), Jake Riley Sr (6th in 2010 #2), Erik Olson So (132nd '10 - #5), Ben Johnson rJr (redshirt 2010 and #7 '09), Brendan Gregg rSr (2x NCAA competitor and #6 in '09), JT Sullivan Sr (100th in '10 - #4), Joe Rosa Fr (14:13.68 5,000 (5k) - '11 #3 US High School (HS) time), Miles Unterreiner rJr (#7 in '10 and 117th in '09 - #4), Jim Rosa Fr, Riley Sullivan rJr (196th in 2010 - #6), Drew Berberick rSo (21st at WR - #4)

Top Stanford Freshmen (ranked #2 nationally by Kevin Selby of Flotrack and by myself): Joe Rosa (14:13.68 5,000 (5k) - '11 #3 US High School (HS) time) 14:56 5k XC '09, Jim Rosa 15:15 5k XC (8:51.46 two-mile indoors), Matt Carpowich (17th '10 Footlocker) 15:01.20 5k XC, Tim Luthen

Oregon - They have had a slow start to the year after injuries (Puskedra) and a change in summer plans (Verbizcas won the world junior triathlon title) affected the team at the start of the season and illness (Shrader at least) affected the team at the first big competition, the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational

Returners - (3), 3 from 2010 NCAA team (one didn't finish) that finished sixth place and one from 200)9 team that finished second, second at 2010 Pac-10 conference:

Luke Puskedra Sr (3rd in 2010 and 21st in 2009 - #1 and 5th in 2008 - #2), Parker Stinson So (121st '10 - #4 and 3x US Jr 10k champ), Lukas Verzbicas Fr (2x FL champ, 2010 NXN champ and two mile indoor - 8:40.7 and outdoor - 8:29.46 US HS records), Brian Shrader So (fifth '09 FL), Ben Dejarnette So ('10 NC comp - DNF and 28th '10 W Reg - #5), Chad Noelle Fr (tenth FL), Jeremy Ephraim Fr, Ryan Pickering Fr (ninth ‘10 FL), Mitchell Hunt rSo, Tim Costin rSo, Chris Kwiatkowski rSr (24th '10 Pac-10 - #5), Bryce Burgess rJr (91st '10 W Reg - #7)

Top Freshmen and Returners (Ranked #1 nationally by Kevin Selby of Flotrack and myself): Verzbicas, Pickering, Noelle, Mac Fleet rSo (49th '09 W Reg), Matt Jablonski Fr (15:18 5k XC), Jeremy Ephraim Fr (14:54.62 5k), Chris Brewer Fr

Arizona - If Sambu runs and the rest of the team can run as a group this team could finish this high. Lalang is undefeated this year and has dominated competition. He is the favorite for the NCAA meet. A healthy Sambu would be a potent 1-2 punch.

Returners - (1), 1 returner from 2010 NCAA meet, none from 2009, eighth at 2010 Pac-10:

Lawi Lalang rFr (2nd '11 NCAA 5k), Stephen Sambu Sr (second in 2010), Kenji Bierig Fr (15:09 5k XC), Abdi Hassan Sr (3rd '11 NCAA 1,500), Patrick Zacharias So (88th '10 W Reg - #2), James Eichenberger rJr (105th '10 W Reg - #4), and Noe Ramirez Jr (107th '09 W Reg - #2)

5. UCLA - Twelfth place finish made them the second best finisher among the seven Pac-12 teams at Wisconsin Adidas invitational. The team has run well all year but the team is having to rely on sophomores and freshmen.

Returners - (0) 0 From 2010 and 2009 (1 from 2008), fourth at 2010 Pac-10:

Kent Morikawa rSr (#4 in 2008 and 23rd '10 W Reg), Nohe Lema So (78th '10 W Reg - #5 and 17th at '10 Pac-10 - #2), Shayne Collins Fr (14:39.83 5k), Dustin Fay So, Chase Zukerman rFr, Lane Werley Fr, Zack Torres Jr (58th '10 W Reg - #3), Spencer Knight rSr (65th '10 W Reg - #4), Pablo Rosales So (81st '10 W Reg - #6), , Brett Walters rSo (47th Pac-10 - #7), David McDonald rSr (92nd '09 W Reg - #7)

Top Freshmen: Lane Werley Fr (6th NXN, 14:46 5k XC, 8:53.21 3200) and Collins

6. Arizona State - 16th at Wisconsin Adidas Invitational in their first big meet of the year. Top runners are juniors and seniors.

Returners - (2) 0 from 2010 and two from 2009, fifth at 2010 Pac-10:

Darius Terry Jr (26th '10 W Reg - #2), Nick Happe Jr (#7 in 2009 and 53rd '10 W Reg - #5), Doug Lovell Sr (44th '10 W Reg - #3), Steven Schneiders rSo (76th '10 W Reg - #7, 40th '10 Pac-10 - #4) Doug Smith Jr (50th '10 W Reg - #4), Matt Boughton Jr (63rd '10 W Reg - #6), Cameron Liston rSr (67th '10 Pac-10 - #9)

7. Washington State - Fifth at Notre Dame Invitational. Veteran group has picked up from last year but the conference is significantly stronger and the Cougars have not added any significant contributors.

Returners - (0) 0 from 2010 or 2009, sixth at Pac-10:

Justin Englund Sr (25th '10 W Reg - #1), Andrew Kimpel Jr (64th '10 W Reg - #2), Jono Lafler Sr (104th '10 W Reg - #4), Andrew Gonzales So (102nd '10 W Reg - #3), Todd Wakefield rFr (4:03.57 mile indoors '11), Drew Jordan So (2x Oregon 6A XC champ), Matt Cronrath Jr (140th '10 W Reg - #6)

8. Washington - The men were 14th at Roy Griak and 31st at the Wisconsin meet. Mostly the finishes are due to illness, and injury. As a result Webster debuted at Wisconsin, Quackenbush won Mike Hodges instead of running in Wisconsin, and McDonald and Miller are trying to round into shape. This team will significantly drop if they aren't running at full strength at Pac-12 but Coach Greg Metcalf has gotten great production out of the men and especially women in the past.

Returners - (3) 0 from 2010 and three from 2009, seventh at 2010 Pac-10:

Rob Webster Jr. Jr (34th 2010 W Reg - #1), Cameron Quackenbush Sr (159th '09 - #4 and 48th '10 W Reg - #5), Max O'Donoghue McDonald rSr (183rd '09 - #5), Joey Bywater Jr (40th '10 W Reg - #2), Mike Miller Jr. So (49th '10 W Reg - #4), James Cameron Jr (42nd '10 W Reg - #3), Garreth Gilna So (61st '10 W Reg - #6), Taylor Carlson So (77th '10 W Reg - #7)

9. Cal - Ninth at Griak Invitational and 25th at Wisconsin. they have not had as good a year as expected after future star Jantzen Oshier was not allowed into school due to an internet course.

Returners - (3) 3 From 2010 and 0 from 2009, third at 2010 Pac-10:

Maxime Chevee Sr (#5 2010, 18th '10 W Reg - #4), Collin Jarvis Jr (159th in 2010 - #3), Chris Walden Fr (14:57.79 5k XC, 10th at '10 FL and 11th in '09), Cody Schmidt Jr (#4 2010, 72nd '10 W Reg - #6), Matt Peterson Jr (#7 '10 W Reg), Simon Schmidt Jr (#6 2010), Renaud Poizat rJr (80th '09 W Reg - #6), Chris Kigar Fr (38th '10 FL)

Top Freshmen (Ranked #3 nationally by Kevin Selby of Flotrack, not ranked by myself): Walden and Kigar

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