How many college cross country programs can include the promise of a trip to Hawaii in their recruiting pitches?
Not many, but Grand Canyon University is one of those that can.
Hawaii is one of the sites included in the rotation for the Pacific West Conference Championships; last season it was the Turtle Bay Resort on the island of Oahu that welcomed the GCU men’s and women’s teams along with the rest of the lucky schools in the PacWest.
Next season, the Antelopes will host the conference championship at their west Phoenix campus. But in 2012, it’s back to Hawaii again where the tournament will be held in Honolulu.
Maybe the GCU coaches included that in their latest pitches, as they pulled in three new recruits for the men’s team that were mined right here in Arizona.
Actually, the majority of the runners on the 2011 roster are from high schools or junior colleges from within the state – even before the ‘Lopes added three more locals. The women’s roster is 100 percent local, as all five on the squad for the coming season hail from Arizona high schools.
The men’s program just added Brandon Kocmoud, the 2010 4A-I state champion from Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria; Jordan Beverly from Millennium High in Goodyear; and Sharles Simon, who helped Central Arizona College in Coolidge to the 2008-09 region championship.
They will join Daniel Cocca from Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Nick Cross from Apache Junction High School, Andrew Meyers from Higley High in Gilbert, Chad Standifer from Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, and Dominic Tapia from Kingman High.
The women’s team includes Samantha Barczynski from Yuma High School, Megan Young from Cactus High in Glendale, and three from Peoria: Joy Hulsey and Maggie Lind from Sunrise Mountain High School and Tamara Webb from Raymond Kellis High.
Both teams took a fourth place at last season’s conference championships.
Maybe the decidedly local flavor of the men’s and women’s cross country programs comes from the decidedly local background of their coach.
Kim Sims, who is getting ready to begin her fifth season as head coach for both programs, was a four-year varsity athlete on the cross country and track teams at Cactus High School in Glendale, and then went on to run cross country at Yavapai College in Precott and Glendale Community College before finishing her studies at Grand Canyon University.
Then she coached high school cross country for 10 years in the Valley, with stops at Cactus HS, Sunrise Mountain HS, Desert Ridge HS, and Verrado HS.
And now she is enjoying success at the NCAA Division II level, where she has a great recruiting tool for any prospect that enjoys travel to exotic lands.