With a blend of new runners mixed-in with a solid core of returners, the 2012 version of Caltech cross country has reason to be hopeful.
For each team there will be an experienced number of runners expected to produce top finishes each race while a handful of harriers will vie for scoring finishes.
On the men's side the Beavers will be paced by Andy Zucker. The senior was a scoring runner each time he toed the starting line for Caltech. The native of Greely, CO will also serve as captain of the squad. Also returning is sophomore Michael Zhang. During his first season with the program he was a top five finisher for Caltech on five occasions.
"Andy and Michael will provide stability at the top of our line-up," said 13th year head coach Scott Jung. "They perform consistently and aggressively which the rest of the team can draw from."
A handful of runners will also be in serious contention for top finishes each race. Juan Adame and Ian Koss came on midseason in 2011 and finished as scoring runners in three races each. Eric Martin completed two races last season but completed those races as third best (NCAA west regional) and fourth best (SCIAC Championships) harrier for the Beavers.
The twin duo of Jon and Stan Schor will bring a steady effort to each race. They were stable racers for the Beavers in 2011 after consistently posting times that put them as scoring runners for Jung's team.
In addition to those returners, there are 11 first-year runners who are vying for top finishes as the Beavers suit up on of their largest squads in recent memory. Alex Pein is one of the new harriers to keep an eye on after qualifying for the Washington state track and field championships in both the 1600 and 3200 meter races.
"There are a lot of different scenarios and possibilities for the men's team in 2012. We put together some good races last season but I think we have a nice mix of veterans and newcomers. I think we can put together a more consistent performance during the upcoming season," Jung said.
Men's Season Video Preview --
The women's team will be led by sophomore Stephanie Reynolds. During her first season with the program the native of Tallahassee, FL was the Beavers top runner in five of the six races she competed in during the 2011 campaign.
Alongside Reynolds' steady performances, Juliette Becker will provide top times for the Beavers as well. As a first-year runner in 2010, Becker set the school 6K record en route to earning all-conference accolades. In 2011, she finished no worse than Caltech's third runner in the six races she competed in.
Katja Luxem returns to the squad after posting personal best marks last season. The junior was a top three runners for Caltech in all of the five races she started. Luxem set her personal collegiate best 6K time at the season ending NCAA west regional championships.
Marlyn Moore showed mark improvement during her sophomore campaign in 2011. Moore improved her times from the previous season on three courses while finishing as a scoring runner in each of the four races she started.
"The four of them will provide a needed spark each race they compete in," Jung said. "Each of them still has yet to meet their potential. If they continue to work hard and press toward their top performances, this could be a very productive season for the squad."
There are 12 runners who are new to the squad in 2012 who will be looked upon to post solid times each race if the Beavers want to push SCIAC schools in the standing.
"We have a good base of returners but if we want to take significant steps as a program this season, the newcomers will need to work hard in practice so they put up times consistent with our top runners." Jung said.
Women's Season Video Preview --