Cross Country Teams Looking to Build Strength in Numbers
2012 Season Preview
August 6, 2012
Kansas City, MO - Dave Denny has been coaching cross country long enough to know you build a program in small steps. With that in mind, he said he sees this year’s men’s and women’s cross country teams as the logical next steps in that progression.
It begins with the numbers. When the program was started two years ago, Denny had just two men and five women running. Most meets, there weren’t enough runners to field a team. Last year, the Eagles fielded both men’s and women’s teams at the Heart of America Athletic Conference meet and beat one team to finish out of the league basement.
This season, Denny said he expects 6-8 men and seven women to compose his teams.
“Numbers are definitely up; we’re excited about that,” said Denny, who was preparing to watch one of his former protégés, Lee’s Summit, Mo. product Matt Tegenkamp, run the 10,000 meters at the 2012 London Olympic Games. “We’re making progress. I’m hoping recruiting will take us another step forward.”
Denny is excited about four freshmen coming onto the Eagles men’s team. Tyler Bunton, out of Liberty Mountain View (Mo.), was a state qualifier in cross country last fall and finished third in his conference race. Zach Hambrick, from Goddard, Kan., finished in the top 25 in the Kansas 5A state race last season. Michael Hudson of Topeka Hayden was 14th in his Kansas 4A region. And K.J. Nigg, out of Deer Creek High School in Edmond, Okla. was 19th in Class 5 in the Oklahoma state meet and was part of a state championship team.
Those four will join returners Curtis Dunlap, a sophomore who was the Eagles’ No. 2 runner last season behind two-time NAIA national meet qualifier Adam McGovern, Pedro Vargas, whom Denny said was “very much improved,” and Nick Parsells, who will double up and play for the men’s soccer team.
Denny said he also was waiting on the eligibility status of an eighth runner, a retired Marine veteran.
On the women’s side, Denny said he was excited about the arrival of freshman Tiffany Zinn, a state qualifier in the Missouri Class 3 3,200-meter run from Pleasant Hill, Mo.
“She should come in right away and be one of our top three runners,” Denny said.
Zinn will join returners Jaimie Page, a senior from Platte City, Mo. and NCAA Division I transfer, Joan Kessler, a sophomore from Lawson, Mo., Karli Lapointe, a senior from Olathe, Kan., Katie Noland, a senior from St. Mary’s HS in Independence, Mo., Eden Woodbury, a junior from St. Joseph, Mo. and Mandi Littleton of Odessa, Mo.
“We’re excited about competing more on the women’s side, hopefully taking that next step,” Denny said.
Eagles cross country also will add an assistant coach – Bruce DuFresne, who most recently coached at Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kan.
Two Eagles runners honored as National Scholar Athletes
Two members of the Avila women's cross country team recently were honored as national scholar athletes by the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete program.
Megan Eagleburger, a senior from Lee's Summit, and Ashley Sheets, a junior and also from Lee's Summit, both received the honor, announced last week before the NAIA National Championships race in Vancouver, Wash. In order to be a participant of the award, an athlete must be a junior or senior in good academic standing, have been in attendance at the nominating institution a minimum of one full year, have a minimum grade-point average of 3.5, and be certified as eligible.
Eagleburger and Sheets both were part of Avila's first-ever women's cross country team this fall