Georgia Tech’s men’s cross country team heads into the 1999 campaign with an experienced roster full of juniors and seniors, which has head coach Alan Drosky optimistic as he enters his ninth year of directing the Yellow Jackets. Knowing that it takes a lot of time and patience to develop young distance runners, he believes that the fruits of their labor over the last several years will now begin to show.
The Jackets will be led by a core group of three accomplished runners in Joe Stegall (Rydal, Ga.), team captain Brad Mills (Toledo, Ohio), and Phillip Gable (Kennesaw, Ga.). Having been Tech’s top three harriers over the last two seasons, they return to once again battle it out for the top spot. Last year, each athlete led the team in different meets over the course of the season and will provide the team with a very capable top three to build around.
“Stegall had a great season last fall and is a very talented runner. He has gotten stronger each year and is capable of becoming an all-ACC performer,” said Drosky. “Mills also has all-ACC potential and came close to that during an exceptional outdoor track season last year. He is running very confidently right now and is understanding where he needs to be in a race and when he needs to make his moves.
“Gable has shown when healthy he can mix it up with Joe and Brad. However, he is returning from knee surgery last spring and we are not sure where he will be from a fitness standpoint. We will make a determination early in the season whether to redshirt him or not,” said Drosky.
Very close behind this group and looking to challenge for a spot in the top three is Joey Zins (Atlanta, Ga.).
“Zins was our most improved runner last year and based on what I’ve seen in early season practice, he might be a candidate for it again,” said Drosky. “I’m seeing a lot more commitment from Joey and he is running much more aggressively.” The Yellow Jackets will look to an experienced group in Giovanni Pipia (Acworth, Ga.), Dan Brin (Lawrenceville, Ga.), Brent Williams (Farmington, Mo.), and Jason Grier (Kennesaw, Ga.) to provide a solid middle pack of scorers.
“All four of these young men have run well in the past, but just not consistently,” said Drosky. “But as they’ve become stronger, they are able to build off solid performances. We need them to step up this year.”
Two athletes who should contend for spots in the top seven are Brent Johnson (Fayetteville, Ga.) and Kenneth Grimes (Fairburn, Ga.). “Both Johnson and Grimes are talented runners who have been hampered by injuries for the better part of two years. If healthy, either one of them could impact our top seven,” said Drosky.
Athletes to watch will be Matt OBrien (Marietta, Ga.), Jared McGehee (Richardson, Tx.), Joe Poliseo (Oakland, N.J.), and David Moritz (Jacksonville, Fl.). This group will look to make continued improvement to challenge the top seven.
Incoming freshmen to the Flats are Brendon Mahoney (Cumming, Ga.), David Schmidt (Marietta, Ga.) and Billy Simpson (Mountain Home, Ark.). A talented group, Mahoney was the second fastest high school miler in the nation last year and Schmidt was an 800 meter state champion in track, and both will probably redshirt this cross country season to prepare for the upcoming track season.