Air Force Prepares for 2008 Season

    Brittany Morreale
    Brittany Morreale

    Aug. 27, 2008

    With an strong contingent of experienced veterans and an impressive lineup of newcomers, the Air Force men's cross country team looks to improve on its success from one year ago. Guided by second-year head coach John Hayes, the Falcons will continue to showcase their talents at the conference, regional and national levels.

    Bolstered by eight seniors and seven juniors, the Falcons will be an experienced team. The squad will be led by senior co-captains, Sean Houseworth (Carlock, Ill.) and Matt Williams (Colorado Springs, Colo.).

    Williams, the 2007 MVP, is the most experienced member of the Falcons' roster, as he competed at the 2007 national meet. An all-conference and all-region honoree last year, Williams will bring a wealth of knowledge to the squad. Houseworth is a two-time conference track champion, winning the 10,000 meters as a sophomore and the indoor 3000 as a junior. During the 2007 cross country season, the duo combined to post the best Air Force finishes in four of the five varsity team events.

    Fellow seniors Daniel Castle (St. Joseph, Mo.), Parker Cowles (Ramstein AB, Germany) and Sebastian Ortiz (Columbia, Pa.) each bring three years of experience to the roster, including trips to the conference championships.

    In addition, classmate Scott Balcao (Stockton, Calif.) returns to the program after a one-year absence, but was a 2006 MWC Runner of the Week and a member of the team that competed at the regional meet. Kyle Jones (Winter Springs, Fla.) and Justin Mason (Fishers, Ind.) also rejoin the team for the 2008 season, after impressive seasons as freshmen and sophomores.



    Five members strong, the junior class brings a wealth of experience to the Falcons' roster. One year ago, junior Zach Nordahl (Molt, Mont.) was the lone sophomore representative for the Falcons at the MWC Championships, finishing 22nd. That experience will be greatly valued.

    Classmates Austin Fritzke (Mt. Shasta, Calif.), Conor Murphy (Delmar, N.Y.) and Andy Schweitzer (Macedonia, Ohio) have been dominant forces for the Falcons' unofficial "B" team, competing in numerous events throughout their first two seasons. Fellow junior John Oliphint (Colorado Springs, Colo.) returns for his second consecutive year with the Falcons' program.

    Although the sophomore class is the smallest, with just three members, all three competed on the "B" team during their first year of collegiate competition. The sophomore class is comprised of Tyler Small (Mercerberg, Pa.), Tyler Stanley (Columbus, Ohio) and Justin Tyner (Baxter, Minn.).

    The Falcons welcome 10 newcomers to the program in 2008. In addition to senior walk-on Brad Chronister (Poplar Bluff, Mo.), Air Force added nine freshmen to its roster, including Matthew Cain (Brockport, N.Y.), Ryan Del Grosso (Marysville, Ohio), Jacob Fulton (Douglasville, Ga.), Zachary Marx (Happy Valley, Ore.), Jonathan Rock (Macomb, Mich.), James Walmsley (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Chase Welch (Marietta, Ga.), Nick White (Peyton, Colo.) and Alex Zubey (Tamaqua, Pa.).

    While the Air Force women's team may not have any seniors on its roster, its junior class will be a valuable source of leadership for the very young squad. Brittany Morreale (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) and Ally Romanko (Coos Bay, Ore.) will co-captain a 14-member team that features nine freshmen and sophomores.

    Morreale, the team's MVP last season, posted the Falcons top time in two meets, while Romanko picked up the top Air Force finish in another. Morreale claimed a team-leading 22nd-place finish at the conference championships, before lighting up the track and field record book in the outdoor 5000. Romanko, who already held the Academy record in the indoor 800, followed up the cross country season by moving up the all-time track records in the outdoor 800- and 1500-meter races.

    Classmate Katie Anderson (Coon Rapids, Minn.) was the Falcons' top finisher at the NCAA Mountain Regional, producing an impressive finish among the top half of the field.

    In addition, the Falcons add two new juniors to the roster in Becca Burditt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Katie Lynch (Aurora, Colo.). Burditt spent her first two years at the Academy making a name for herself on the track team in the sprint events, while Lynch joined the track team last fall after spending her freshman year as a member of the Air Force soccer team. Lynch had a strong showing in the 10,000-meter run at the MWC outdoor championships, posting the seventh-fastest time in Academy history. Also, junior Danielle Snider (Fishers, Ind.) returns to the program after participating as a freshman.

    Like their counterparts on the men's team, the sophomore class is the smallest at just one member. Katherine Ward (Port Matilda, Pa.) has the most experience of the second-youngest class, competing in four meets, including the conference and regional championships. The top-finisher at the season-opener, Ward also produced the ninth-best 10k time in program history during the outdoor track season.

    The Falcons add six freshmen to its 2008 roster, including Katherine Carroll (San Antonio, Texas), Auriele Fain (Billings, Mont.), Phaelen French (Austin, Colo.), Meghan Prinkey (White Plains, Md.), Alexa Ramsier (Dallas, Texas) and Elyse Willard (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.).

    Entering his second year at the helm of the Falcons' program, Hayes will be joined by first-year assistant coach Lt Col Steve Cowles, who spent last season as a volunteer coach. Hayes had an impressive off-season, coaching Lopez Lomong to a semifinal berth in the 1500-meter run at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

    Inside Cross Country