Although boys cross country coach Jonathan Ball calls the team “a work in progress,” he is among the first to admit that the roster features two top-notch runners who could be among the best in the section.
Senior Jamie Wadington and sophomore Dawson Beeson are the straws expected to stir the Longhorn drink as the Horns negotiate the Division III, Section I schedule highway.
“Both are very dedicated to the program and have a strong desire to make improvements,” Ball said. “They compete hard against each other in practice and benefit greatly from one another.”
In two time trials held during preseason, Wadington won the first and was narrowly edged by Beeson in the second.
Wadington, Ball said, “in the last two years may have made the most improvement of any runner I have been around.
“He has a drive to get better and he has.”
The success Wadington is enjoying has him, “running with a newfound confidence.”
The coach is predicting big seasons for both Beeson and Wadington and both have a legitimate shot at being top-25 runners when the sectional meet is held Oct. 28 at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff.
And that would be quite an accomplishment since that meet will be one of the most fiercely contested in the state with runners from former 4A schools and the northern Arizona reservation teams competing.
It’s a good bet that victors at the Section I meet will dominate the Division III championships a week later.
Filling out the roster
While the Horn roster sports a pair of top-notch runners, the team must have at least four if it is to be competitive.
It appears in preseason practices that Niyal Curi and Kenny Nyhus could be those contributors with newcomers Ryland Wala and Kevin Sandel looking to make inroads.
Curi has been slowed by a back injury, but the coach says he now, “looks to be healthy and will be a solid 3-4 runner for us.”
Nyhus is a senior who sat out the last two years.
“He is working hard and making improvements,” Ball said.
The coach also predicts Wala and Sandel will have an immediate impact on the team.
Wala was third in a recent time trial prompting Ball to predict, “He should have a very solid freshman season.”
The 2011 campaign kicks off tomorrow, Sept. 3 in a Marcos de Niza-hosted meet at Tempe Kiwanis Park.
The team’s only home meet is set for 3 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 7 at Payson Golf Course.
Spectators are welcome and there is no admission.