After last weekend’s season opening victory at SUNY Brockport, the men’s cross country team looked to continue to add momentum early in the season when they hosted Rochester Institute of Technology and SUNY Fredonia at Genesee Valley Park on Saturday. Although Head Coach John Izzo said the team “ran pretty well,” they came up just short against a very strong RIT team. Izzo said “the idea was to go out and run a tough race at a good pace.”

With 33 total points, RIT finished in first out of the three competing teams. The UR team wasn’t far behind, totaling 34 points. Despite having the top overall finisher, Fredonia finished third with 71 points.

For the second week in a row, the UR team was led by junior Dan Duett, who finished the 6,400 meter run in 21 minutes flat to place second overall. He was once again followed closely by freshman Andrew Whitback, who is quickly making a name for himself as one of the top young UR runners. Whitback crossed the line in third place, completing the race in 21:06. Junior Ian Slattery placed sixth overall in 21:13, giving the UR team three of the top six finishers. That, however, would not be sufficient for the victory, as RIT would occupy spots seven through 10. Freshman Ben Snyder and sophomore Kevin McGettrick finished back-to-back in 11th and 12th places, crossing the line in 21:33 and 21:38 respectively. Rounding out the scoring for the men were juniors Terence Cordner and Peter Nabozny, who were 14th and 15th, both finishing in 21:53.

“Although we won the first meet, we actually ran much better in the second meet,” Izzo said. “We’re in much better shape now than we were when the season started. We can really do damage.”

Two factors that will play a role in the team’s success this season – and for the next several years as well – are its youth and its depth.

In addition to having freshmen Whitback and Snyder contribute to the scoring in each of the first two meets of the season, there are several other runners itching to break through.

“No one in the top 18 on the team is a senior,” Izzo said.

Although they certainly have the ability to make an immediate impact and contribute to the success of the team, they will only continue to improve as the season progresses.

Izzo emphasized that the team has “a whole bunch of guys vying for the top ten spots,” as only ten runners can participate in the championship races at the end of the season.

Because of the team’s depth, Izzo acknolwedges that there is some friendly competition emerging, which he said “is always good,” adding “if you want to be considered one of the top runners, you

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have to work hard and perform on a weekly basis.”

With this Saturday’s race at the Allegheny Classic being the first eight kilometer event of the young season, Coach Izzo said he will take this opportunity to “start looking at who our top ten runners are.” He called this weekend “the toughest test of the year in terms of the terrain,” adding that he is “excited and looking forward to it. We’ll get to see some new schools and some good UAA schools we don’t usually compete against except in championships.” With four UAA teams in the top 25, it will be another good test for a young team.

Swidler can be reached at dswidler@campustimes.org.



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