After struggling to a last place finish last week at the UAA Championships, the men’s cross country team rebounded, just as coach John Izzo said they would last week. Despite injuries to two of the top runners on the team and facing what Izzo referred to as “very good competition, including three nationally ranked teams,” the men’s team managed to finish 8th out of the 14 competing teams at the New York State Championships at Oswego.

In comparison to last week’s race, Izzo said “both emotionally and physically we bounced back very well this week. We competed very well, and I couldn’t be displeased with the effort.”

If the rest of the team didn’t have enough incentive to rebound from last week’s subpar showing, the efforts of senior David Messenheimer and junior Alex Voetsch certainly added to the motivational factor. Despite battling injuries, both Messenheimer and Voetsch began the race, and although Voetsch was unable to finish, it certainly wasn’t for a lack of effort. And of Messenheimer’s 62nd place finish and slowest racing time of the season, Izzo said, “It was courageous that he even finished.”

He added, “As a team I think we ran pretty well, but we were missing two of our top three runners. Injuries are a part of the game, but I felt bad because people weren’t able to see what they’re really capable of doing.” The team rallied around their injured veterans and “there were some real breakthrough performances,” Izzo stated.

One of the runners Izzo was referring to, was the emergence of freshman Chris Nolan as one of the premier runners on the team. Izzo praised Nolan’s efforts, exclaiming “he ran a hell of a race.”

In just his first year, Nolan was consistently one of the top three runners on the team, and led the team this weekend, as well as in the second race of the season when the men faced Fredonia and RIT. His finishing time of 26:34 was good enough for 17th overall, a very strong finish against tough competition. Finishing second for UR and 49th in scoring was sophomore Ian Slattery, who crossed the line in 27:42. He was followed by the 56th overall finisher, senior Justin Panarese, finishing in 27:59. Fourth for UR was Messenheimer.

The team looks to build upon their improved performance this weekend when they head to Regional Championships, hosted by the College of New Jersey.

As Izzo said, “We’re hoping to have Messenheimer and Voetsch as healthy as can be expected, and I expect that we’ll run well. All year long we’ve had a good effort out of everyone. We’ve had different people contribute all along.”

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