The men’s cross country team started the season off on a high note, defeating SUNY Brockport last Saturday. With four runners in the top seven finishers, Coach John Izzo called this year’s team “definitely ahead of last year’s schedule.”

Despite the long break between the end of the spring track season and the beginning of this year’s cross country season, in addition to adding a number of new freshmen to the team, Izzo stated that “most people came here in pretty good shape,” adding that “they worked hard all summer.”

The team’s strong performance in the first meet of the season prompted Coach Izzo to explain that he is “very optimistic about this team.”

With two seniors, five juniors, six sophomores, and eight freshmen, the team has a good balance between veterans and rookies. With injuries to seniors Mike Hakiel and co-captain Alex Voetsch, the team will rely on leadership from the returning juniors, particulary co-captain Peter Nabozny.

Leading the way for the UR men last weekend was junior Dan Duett, who was second overall, finishing the six kilometer race in 19:56. Just behind him was freshman Andrew Whitbeck, last year’s New York State Class D Cross Country Champion, who completed his first collegiate competition in 20:01 to finish fourth overall. Sophomore Kevin McGettrick was the third UR runner, crossing the line in sixth place in 20:27. Just three seconds later, junior Ian Slattery finished seventh with a time of 20:30. Rounding out the top five finishers for the UR team was another rookie, Ben Snyder. Also finishing in the top ten was junior Terrence Cordner, who Izzo said “had a great spring in the steeplechase,” adding “we’re expecting him to be up there [all season].”

Following the victory on Saturday, the men’s team is ranked seventh out of the 58 teams in the Atlantic Region. Their strong start gives them little opportunity to rest, however, as they will host fifth ranked Rochester Institute of Technology, as well as SUNY Fredonia this coming weekend at Genesee Valley Park. Although they are ranked several positions below their opponent, Izzo said that the team “just needs to go out and do what we do,” explaining that “the rest will take care of itself.”

“Things are going quite well, we just need to keep working hard. I’m very excited about the talent level we have,” Izzo said.

Although there’s been just one meet thus far, it looks to be a very promising season for the men’s cross country team.

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