Pima Community College men’s and women’s cross country head coach Greg Wenneborg is almost sure this is the year for a momentous finish.
“I think this might be the year where we go top 10 for both the men and women,” he said.
Every season Wenneborg set out with that simple goal: for both teams to finish in the top 10 at nationals. However, he’s yet to see it take place, coming into his sixth season.
The men’s team has a group of returning runners along with some solid freshmen.
“When we came into the season we had a great recruiting year for the men and we had high hopes of a very strong finish at the national meet,” Wenneborg said.
Wenneborg remains optimistic but has minimized his expectations somewhat.
“Our preseason work hasn’t been as good as we’ve hoped,” he said. “We clearly have a shot at a top 10 finish but may struggle to be any better than that.”
Sophomores Jess Montour and Mario Portillo will play big roles in leading the team.
Two key freshmen are Andy Lacy from Catalina Foothills and Humberto Bravo out of Flowing Wells. Lacy does certain runs barefoot to strengthen his feet.
“I don’t have anything expected of myself except for me to go out in the first race that we have and more or less ripping it open to see what I can do,” Lacy said. “We are definitely set to go high in the national rankings.”
The Aztecs will travel to Flagstaff to open the season at the George Kyte Invitational on Sept. 4.
The women’s team surprised Wenneborg in a sense.
“We expected to have a little bit of a down year on the women’s side,” he said. “My recruiting didn’t go as well but then all of a sudden things fell into place.”
Magda Mankel, Julia Peerenboom and Annalisa Loevenguth are vital among the returning runners along with some “serious” freshmen.
“The ladies went out and did their homework over the summer and showed up in very good shape,” Wenneborg said.
Peerenboom agreed that they did their homework and got their summer miles in. She also thinks the team will be strong.
“We’re going to be a hard team to beat because we have a lot of talent,” she said. “I know last year we had some really good girls that were standouts but I feel like this year all of us are together, which is really good.”
The women impressed Wenneborg during a recent time trial.
“I believe the women could be as good as any team we’ve had in the last five years,” he said. “If I compare that time trial to the previous two years’ teams and scored it as a cross country race, this team would have won.”