Eastern New Mexico University’s cross country teams made their best showings ever in the Lone Star Conference meet last fall. Fourth-year coach Eric Boll is optimistic they can improve on it this season.
The Greyhounds, picked for ninth, finished third in the LSC meet last fall and then stunned traditional conference power Abilene Christian in regional competition. The Zias, meantime, came in seventh in an 11-team field.
ENMU opens its season on Thursday in the Midwestern State Invitational at Wichita Falls, Texas.
“For some of those schools, cross country is their thing,” Boll said. “They pour some money into those programs.”
The men return their top two runners from last season in senior Richard Kogo of Eldoret, Kenya, and sophomore Jacob Lozano of Hobbs. They will be challenged this year by junior Mohammed Noor, a Samalian who transferred in from Garden City (Kan.) Community College.
“His family came to Maine about three years ago, and he was recruited to Garden City,” Boll said. “We ran against them last year at WT (West Texas A&M), and he beat all our guys pretty good.
“He should be our No. 1.”
Others who should contribute include junior Casey Robertson, a sophomore from Columbus Junction, Iowa, and juniors Patrick Lueras of Los Lunas and Pedro Martinez of Fort Worth, Texas. Robertson transferred from North Iowa Area CC.
“I think those guys are going to be right in there,” Boll said. “I’m hoping they all push each other.”
The Zias return their top three runners in junior Nicole Reid of Pueblo, Colo., and seniors Jerri Martin of Gallup and Danielle Jones of Albuquerque. They also face a challenge from a newcomer, Boll said, in freshman Adrienne Montoya of Estancia.
“Those girls should all be right in there,” Boll said. “I think they’ll make each other better.”
Others in the mix include senior Theresa Chacon of Tucumcari, junior Megan Bryant of Carlsbad and freshman Linda Vacario of El Paso.
Boll said the school has hired Mike Harney, a graduate assistant the past two years, as a fulltime assistant. Harney’s primary responsibility has been in the area of recruiting.
2 — at Midwestern State Invitational, 6 p.m.; 17 — at Texas Tech Open, 6:15 p.m.; 25 — at Oklahoma State Jamboree, 9 a.m.
1 — at West Texas A&M Buffalo Stampede, 5:30 p.m.; 23 — at East Central Tiger Chase, 9:30 a.m.
6 — LSC championships at Abilene, Texas, 10 a.m.
All times Mountain.