2015 Men's Cross Country Preview
Updated: Sunday 09/28/2015 (ET)
by Jacob Skipper
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The William & Mary men's cross country team showed some promise early last year and continued one of the nation's longest conference win streaks, but the Tribe is hungry for more and aiming for a return to prominence in the Southeast Region this fall.  Director of Cross Country Stephen Walsh brings back every significant contributor from last year and added eight talented freshmen in recruiting.

At the top of the depth chart as the season begins is senior Ryan Gousse (Apopka, Fla.), who earned his first NCAA qualifier this spring in the steeplechase.  Gousse was also the CAA runner-up in cross country, and is the top returning runner in the league this fall.  He'll be chased for the top spot by a number of other returning veterans, including classmates Nathaniel Hermsmeier (Charlottesville, Va.) and David Barney (Lynchburg, Va.).  Hermsmeier has been one of the most consistent members of W&M's varsity line-up the last two years, and is ready for a breakthrough in his final turn around the course.  Barney has battled injuries for the last three years, including missing all of 2014-15, but after finally getting healthy and with a summer of base training under him, he should contend for top honors in the conference and battle for a top-25 spot at the region.  Even with those injuries, Barney was one of W&M's top runners in 2013-14, just narrowly missing an NCAA bid in the 1,500m outdoors.

Also expected to contend at the top of the conference table are juniors Trevor Sleight (Asheville, N.C.) and Faris Sakallah (Chantilly, Va.).  Sleight was the CAA Rookie of the Year two years ago, and was W&M's top runner through the regular season in 2014.  Sakallah was a consistent runner in the four-to-six range for W&M each of the past two years, but came into his own last spring wtih a CAA title and top-five finish in the IC4A at 10,000m.  He went on to finish 11th at the USAT&F Junior Championships, closely mirroring his finish at the USAT&F Junior Cross Country Championships in February.

Sophomore Mac Haight (Vienna, Va.) was the CAA Rookie of the Year last season, placing seventh in the conference meet.  He also ran at the Southeast Regional for W&M, and started the year with a string of strong performances.  Classmate Chris Hoyle (Oak Hill, Va.) was 11th at CAAs, and improved to fourth on the team at the region meet, a spot he'll look to repeat regularly as the fall progresses this year.  Redshirt-sophomore Kurtis Steck (Williamsburg, Va.) also looks to be in the mix to make the scoring line-up, after a strong spring that included a CAA title in the 1,500m run.

New to the squad are eight talented rookies, who bring a plethora of all-state and All-American experience to Williamsburg.  Andrew Cacciatore (Indialantic, Fla.) was the Florida state runner-up each of the last two years, while leading his team to four-straight team titles.  On the other end of the Eastern seaboard, Cole Clark (Weston, Conn.) was all-state in cross country for Weston HS and the Connecticut state champion in the 1,600m last spring.  Riley Covert (Charlottesville, Va.) is another miler, who was sixth at the Virginia cross country championships as a senior after taking ninth as a junior.

Also joining the squad is Matt Heinicke-Peart (Richmond, Va.), who led Douglas Freeman HS to the state title in 2014.  He was also a top-six finisher three times in track, including third indoors at 1,000m as a senior.  Freshman Jack Joyce (Ashburn, Va.) was a bronze-medalist himself, outdoors at 3,200m as a senior, and also earned all-state accolades at 1,600m last spring as well.  Ryan McGorty (Fairfax, Va.) was a two-time pre All-American on the track, and won 11 all-state honors at Chantilly High.  As a junior, he took third at the Virginia state cross country championships, and also finished third indoors at 1,600m that year.  Ryan Onders (Shaker Heights, Ohio) is an experience steeplechaser from University HS, and was a six-time state qualifier in Ohio.  Rounding out the class is Evan Woods (Bethesda, Md.), the Maryland state cross country champion as a senior.  Woods also won the 1,600m and the 3,200m outdoors in 2015 for Walt Whitman HS.

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