2010 Washington and Lee Men's XC Preview

Winners of four of the last six ODAC Championships, the Washington and Lee men's cross country team finds itself in slightly foreign territory entering the 2010 season. Following a third-place finish in 2009, the Generals were picked to once again finish third in the 2010 preseason coaches poll.

"We know that we have a tough road ahead of us," noted Head Coach John Tucker. "We don't have a lot of depth and not much margin for error, but if we can get five guys that can really compete, well, I think we'll be ok."
The lack of depth that Tucker alluded to is in reference to W&L being without its top two projected runners, sophomore Harrison Tucker and senior Joe Stusek. Tucker, a Second Team All-ODAC selection and an all-region honoree last season, suffered an injury last spring and has not yet fully recovered, while Stusek elected not to run in his senior season.
"Losing two of your top guys obviously hurts, but we have some good developing athletes," Tucker noted.
Despite losing two of his top runners, Tucker's roster does not lack in talent. Junior captain Robert Warneford-Thomson returns after earning Second Team All-ODAC laurels a season ago. He finished 12th at the conference meet a in 2009, coming in at 28:30.27.
"RWT {Warneford-Thomson} is a known commodity throughout the league," Tucker pointed out. "He is a respected runner and has the talent to do well for us."
Also back are seniors David Doobin, Rob George and Jack Ivy, juniors Ryan Henner and Matt Gossett and sophomore Tyler Gehrs, among others.
George, who serves as Tucker's other captain this fall, just missed garnering All-ODAC honors a season ago as he finished 16th overall at the conference meet with a time of 28:54.73. He was also W&L's second-best runner at the NCAA Regional meet where he finished 49th out of 174 runners with a time of 29:09.
"I see Rob being in our Top 5 again," Tucker said. "He's a solid and experienced runner and I expect him to do pretty well for us."
Ivy and Doobin enter their senior seasons as slight wild cards for coach Tucker. Doobin participated on the team last year, but did not compete in any races, while Ivy, a second team all-conference selection as a sophomore, ran just one race last season due to injury.
"Jack is back from injury and he could really be a big boost for us this season," observed Tucker. "And Doobin is a real good athlete. He is real competitive and you just can't count him out."
W&L's junior class is led by Gossett and Henner. The two of them both placed in the Top 30 at last season's ODAC Championship meet, with Gossett taking 22nd (29:24.54) and Henner taking 26th


"Ryan is a capable runner for us and has done pretty well the last two years," quipped Tucker. "As for Matt, he could be poised to have a great year. He is in great shape and could really step up for us."
Gehrs, who is also a member of the W&L swim team, is a runner that Tucker feels could really make a big step this year. Sidelined by injury most of his rookie season, Gehrs was able to compete in only two races, but he showed some promise and Tucker expects him to be healthy in his second year.
"Tyler may have pushed himself a little too hard his first year," he pointed out. "I think that with a year of experience now, he is going to be able to train better and he is running really well right now."
Kane Thomas is the only first-year on the roster, but Tucker expects him to be able to contribute right away for the Generals.
"I am very excited about Kane and what he could do for us," Tucker exclaimed. "He could really be a bright spot for us and I expect him to be in the Top 5 for much of the season."
Despite being picked to finish third in the league behind Lynchburg (the consensus No. 1 in the league poll) and Virginia Wesleyan, Tucker gives his team a puncher's chance late in the season.
"If we can avoid some injuries and get the improvement that we expect, you never know. We just might be able to sneak in there," he said. "I think that everything is going to work out for us ok  and that we will be there with a chance in the end."
Washington and Lee opens its 2010 season with the W&L Invitational on Saturday. The women's race is set to begin at 10:00 am, while the men's race will begin at 11:00 am.