Who to Watch
DeMatha junior Cory Puffett (pictured left) and senior Robert Patterson know what it takes to be the best runners in the WCAC. They haven't lost to a conference opponent in nearly two years (excluding each other) and they've swept the top two spots in the past two conference championships. It seemed more than likely that they would be the class of the WCAC once more-until one week ago, when a new competitor showed them that staying on top would be harder than ever.
That new competitor is Bill Ledder, the Gonzaga junior who cemented his reputation as the WCAC's dominant middle distance power at last spring's WCAC track championships after he unleashed his fearsome finishing kick to win the 4x800, 1600, and 800. Ledder is now looking to extend his dominance to the grassy hills of cross country for the first time in his career, and after having run a very respectable 16:29 5K in his cross country debut, it would appear as though he has the best chance to play spoiler to Puffet and Patterson's third and final chance at a top-2 sweep.
Those three will have their hands full with several others, including Good Counsel's Sam Rainard, who made a name for himself last season after placing highly in several invitationals and running to a 3rd place finish at the 2007 championships. Paul VI's duo of seniors Ian McGinn and Charles Horne, who finished 4th and 5th, respectively, at last year's championships, look poised run very well this season.
Teams to Beat
By winning the Jefferson Invitational of West Virginia with a surprisingly low 33 points, Gonzaga established themselves as the team to beat for 2008. A great front-runner in Ledder is complemented by a tight following pack composed of Mike Kerrigan, Billy Lewis, Devin Kelly, Will Fleury, Ben Zeiss, and Kevin Creamer. 2007 team champion Good Counsel was one of the best teams in Maryland last year, and could do very well depending on how they rebound from last year's losses to graduation. Finally, 2006 champion DeMatha has an outside shot at a title as they find themselves in the exact same place as last year-very strong top 3, but somewhat questionable after that. If they can find a solid 4th and 5th man, DeMatha has as good of a shot as any to run well as a team.