Men's Cross Country Season Review
Dec. 2, 2010
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The NCAA Southeast Regionals marked the conclusion of the 2010 season for the Wake Forest men's cross country team. Here's a look at how the Deacs performed this season.
Head Coach John Millar entered into his first season at the helm of the Wake Forest cross country program, and he brought immediate improvement to the men's squad. The Deacs placed fourth out of 12 teams in their first meet of the season, the Covered Bridge Open in Boone N.C. After falling to Duke in the Wake Forest/Duke Dual, the team responded with a first place overall finish among 22 teams at the Charlotte Invitational on October 1. This marked the first time since the Wake Forest Relays in September of 2005 that the team achieved first place honors.
"I was pleased with the season from the standpoint of how the kids bought into what we were trying to do and the changes that we had instilled," Millar said. "Their progress throughout the season was exciting and evidence of their belief in the program."
The squad placed third among eight teams two weeks later at the Panorama Farms Invitational, where they faced fierce competition from ACC-foes Duke and Virginia. The team then had a terrific outing at the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, as they finished in sixth place out of 12 teams. This marked the first time since a fourth place finish at the conference meet in 2005 that the men's squad finished in the top half of the ACC.
The team success continued to come, as the Deacs finished in tenth place overall among a field of 34 teams at the NCAA Southeast Regional meet, marking a significant improvement over last year's 17th place finish. This was also the top showing for the men's team at the regional meet since 2007, where they placed ninth out of 29 teams.
Senior Tom Divinnie entered his first season with the Deacons with one year of eligibility remaining after having competed for four years at nearby Davidson College. An injury during his freshman campaign left him sidelined for the remainder of the season, and so with one year of athletic eligibility remaining, Divinnie took his talents to Wake Forest to pursue a Masters degree in accountancy and to help turn around the Demon Deacon cross country program.
"I am just thankful to have had the opportunity to run this year," Divinnie said. "I really enjoyed all the guys on the team, the new coaches, and I accomplished some things I wasn't able to accomplish at Davidson."
The Nashville, Tenn. native provided consistency and leadership for a young Demon Deacon squad that included seven sophomores and one redshirt freshman.
"Overall, I think this cross country season was a huge step in the right direction for our team," said Divinnie. "We accomplished our goals of finishing in the top half of the ACC and then top ten in the region. Almost everyone on the team set personal bests, and we significantly improved from top to bottom."
Divinnie's impact was felt immediately, as he finished first on the team and eighth overall in the season kick-off Covered Bridge Open in a time of 20:04.23. Divinnie would go on to claim first place honors on the Wake Forest squad in three of the five remaining races, including a second place overall finish at the Charlotte Invitational on October 1. His time of 24:45.8 on the 8k course placed him a mere seven seconds off the pace of the first-place finisher.
Divinnie achieved his top 8k time of the season in the next meet, the Panorama Farms Invitational, crossing the line in 24:18.96 to place seventh overall. He placed second on the team at the ACC Championships on Oct. 30 in Boston, while following that up with a first place team finish and 41st overall at the NCAA Southeast Regionals in a 10k time of 31:53.6.
Senior Greg Billington, a native of Six Mile Bottom, England, also turned in a strong senior season for the Deacs, racing in four meets and clinching top-three team finishes in each of them.
"It felt great to be running well and to be contributing to the best team performances Wake Forest cross country has had in years," said Billington. "Especially towards the end of the long season, it was much easier to train hard knowing that I was surrounded by a group of dedicated runners."
The highlight of Billington's season came at the ACC Championships where he finished first on the team and 26th overall in an 8k time of 24:32.9. Billington would go on to finish third on the team at the NCAA regional meet, crossing the line of the 10k course in 32:16.5.
Redshirt freshman Devin Huizenga made remarkable improvement over the course of the season, as he went from finishing tenth on the team in the season-opening race to achieving third place finishes in each of the last three meets. Huizenga's personal-best 8k time came at the ACC Championships, as he finished 45th overall in 25:08.6. He concluded the season with a third place finish at the NCAA Regionals, crossing the line in 32:10.5 to solidify a 56th place overall finish.
Garret Drogosch, a sophomore from Westlake Village, Calif., had another terrific season for the Deacs, racing in all six meets and achieving a first-place team finish at the Wake Forest/Duke Dual in 25:35. His 8k finish in 24:51.4 at the Panorama Farms Invitational marked a season-best time. Drogosch placed fourth on the team at both the ACC Championships (8k) and the NCAA Regionals (10k), finishing in times of 25:34.5 and 32:40.1, respectively.
Junior Paul Loeser, a local product from Winston-Salem, raced in five meets for the Deacs during the season. He achieved a third-place team finish at the Covered Bridge Open, finishing 25th overall in 20:33.41. Loeser's season-best 8k time of 25:22.7 at the Panorama Farms Invitational placed him fourth on the Demon Deacon squad. He competed in the ACC Championships for the first time since his freshman year, completing the course in 26:12.
Sophomores Nate Guthals and Tom Finneran raced steadily and consistently for the Deacs all season, as Guthals ran in all six meets while Finneran raced in five. Guthals achieved his top time of the season, 25:36.7(8k), at the ACC Championships to finish fifth on the Wake Forest squad. The Littleton, Colo. native also finished fifth on the team at the NCAA Regionals in 33:15.7 (10k).
Finneran notched fifth-place team finishes at both the Covered Bridge Open and the Wake Forest/Duke Dual. At the Charlotte Invitational, he crossed the 8k finish line in 25:40.6 for his top time of the season.
Senior Marcus Dillon finished second on the team in the first meet of the season, the Covered Bridge Open, but was hampered by injuries that forced him to refrain from racing for the next three meets. He returned to racing form just in time, as he was able to compete in both the ACC Championships and NCAA Regionals. Dillon placed sixth among Wake Forest runners in both races with times of 25:43.8 (8k) and 32:52.3 (10k), respectively.
Sophomore Jake Graham raced in four meets on the season, with his top performance coming at the Panorama Farms Invitational. His time of 25:39.40 placed him sixth on the Demon Deacon squad. Fellow sophomore Sam Foster raced in two meets, placing 8th on the team at the Covered Bridge Open and ninth at the Wake Forest/Duke Dual.
Tom Morrison competed in the first three races of the season for the Deacs. The junior from Ontario, Canada achieved a personal-best time of 25:55.7 at the Charlotte Invitational 8k race.
Sophomore Anthony Marois ran in the Wake Forest/Duke Dual and the Charlotte Invitational, while fellow sophomore Howard Graves competed in the Charlotte Invitational, finishing eighth on the team in a time of 25:46.7.
Junior Ben Morrow also raced in the Charlotte Invitational, crossing the finish line in 27:11.2 to place 12th on the team.