FAIRFIELD — With the 2012 prep cross country season in full swing, this year’s meets have a bit of a different flavor.
Former Monticello Empire League powerhouse Fairfield, now in the Solano County Athletic Conference, has a new coach in James Macariola as longtime coach Dave Monk has taken over the helm at Armijo. And Vanden could be the one to watch when the SCAC championships roll around, giving perennial conference power Benicia a run for its money.
Here’s a look at this year’s city teams:
The Vikings, coached by Sherman Martinez, have potentially the top boys and girls runners in the SCAC in Alex Jenks and Aidan Schraer. Both Jenks and Schraer are the defending conference champions and could both repeat this season.
Darrian Serr and Karin Zehm also return to the girls squad for Martinez, while Kyle Somerville and Jacque Henderson are back for the boys team.
Martinez is expecting some good things from newcomers Josey Breeden, Darlene Bugado, Annaise Renteria, Caleb Stiles, Justin Alvarez and Jonathan Alexander-Barkley.
“There is a large boys team that could compete for the league title with Fairfield and Benicia,” Martinez said. “The girls team will have its work cut out competing with a very strong group from Benicia.”
Taking over a new program is always a big task for any coach, but look for Monk to whip the Indians into shape fast.
The coach, who spent 10 seasons coaching at Fairfield, has a pretty raw group to work this season with most of his athletes new to cross country. Still, he’s looking to get the most out of Andres Rivera, Caleb Rounsavall, Elisha Machado and Tyra Hold. All aren’t new to running, though, as each were on the track teams last spring.
“Obviously, taking over a new program, I’m still learning what the kids bring to the table,” Monk said. “But I’ve been very pleased with the following which have emerged as early season leaders.
“I’m excited to be working with a great group of students. They are working hard and did a good job of putting work in over the summer to assure they have the best season possible. . . . The boys sophomore class is very promising . . . ”
The Mustangs and coach Tracy Cordes are in the MEL and are looking to solidify their spot in a tough league.
The team returns three boys in Cody Addington, Marcos Moreno and Jacob Paniccia, along with three girls in Makenzie Alspaw, Karen Hormigas and Eboni Stallworth.
Rodriguez also has a handful of newcomers in Anthony Vogliano, Blake Bradburn, Emma Vogliano and Carina Gutierrez, of whom, Cordes said “Both girls come in with huge potential. In a very short time, they have made an impact on the team, pushing themselves and their teammates.
“Our expectations for this season will be to become a more disciplined and dedicated team. We are hoping to start a new and improved program and build on that in the years to come. . . . We are looking forward to a great season.”
Macariola takes over a Falcons program that was, year in and year out, a contender in the MEL under Monk. Now back in the SCAC, the coach is looking for good things from Martin Cuevas, Jesus Perez, Terrell Joseph, Trevor Hall and Andrew Purcell on the boys team, and Leah Canlas, Lupe Reyes, Deja Burrell, Grecia Mora and Maria Santos Barron for the girls.
“Our team may be small, but it is a very hard working team,” Macariola said. “We are continuing to build off the program that coach Monk has left and continuing the winning ways of FHS. Our team is young but hungry to become better and sooner than later become a challenge to be reckoned with in the SCAC.”