Cross country season already off and running

The 2009 Cross Country season is underway and The Oakland Post sat down with head coach Paul Rice to discuss early season results and this season’s top runners.


What are the goals for this season? 

“For us, it’s more recently [to be ranked in the] top 15 in the region. We’ve gotten ranked in the top 15 but haven’t actually finished in the top 15 at the regional championships. 

I think this year we have a top 15 squad.”


Looking toward the future, who are some runners to keep an eye on for future seasons?

“We’ve got a great sophomore class that ran really well last year as freshmen. Our sophomore trio [Pat Cassady, Kenny Wall and Steven Marcinkowski] are all in our top seven. We brought in some really good freshmen this year. Tony Schafer, a state champion last year as a senior in high school, he’s really a freshman star for us. Philip Palomino, he’s run real well this year. 

I’m real excited about the future, we’ve got some great freshmen and sophomores. Zack Jones is actually a senior but we redshirted him his second year because of an injury so he will be back next year as a redshirt senior.”


Speaking of Jones, he seems to be off to a good start. How is he so successful?

“Well, Zack Jones didn’t start out as a standout his first year, but it’s been an evolution his last couple of years. He definitely has a little less fear than everybody else. He gets out there and just runs hard and really lays it out on the line. He’s been right out front the last couple years and for him that’s a comfortable place and that’s where he likes to be.”


As for the women’s side, Kelsey Carmean has been winning races early in the year. Who else can we expect to emerge?

“Kelsey, right now, she is our standout but we’ve got a group of women that we haven’t run yet this year that are coming off injuries. When we get them all together, we’ll find out more in the next couple of weeks.

We’ve got Lia Jones coming back, she had an injury over the summer … we’re trying not to push her too much too early. Sara Lieblein, she’s a senior this year, she’ll be back next week as well. She’s been one of our front-runners the last couple years. Erica D’Angelo, she’s still healing, she had an injury over the summer, it’ll be probably be three to four more weeks before she comes back. Once we get that core group of girls back, this is gonna be a really good season.”


The team will compete next at the Cardinal Invitational in Saginaw Sept. 25.


Photo by JOSE JUAREZ/OU Athletic Communications