The Yellowjackets knew their trip to SUNY Geneseo was going to be a tough one, but they proved they were up to the test when they ran their strongest race of the season.

On Saturday, the men’s cross country team participated in their biggest and most competitive meet yet. They competed in a field of extremely talented runners and against a group of exceptionally tough teams.

The Yellowjackets weren’t easily pushed away, they came through with a third place finish in the 18-team field.

“The meet was very successful for our team,” senior Kevin McGettrick said. “It served as a huge confidence boost for everyone that we’re on the right track to run our best at the end of the season at the conference and regional meets.”

Sophomore Mark Stevens was the individual runner-up among the 192 runners, clocking a time of 25:20 for the eight-kilometer course – approximately five miles – and finishing just four seconds behind the first place finisher.

“The course was really quick,” Stevens said. “I dropped my weekly mileage to 92 miles the week of the race and felt pretty good on Saturday.”

Stevens was backed up by teammates senior Kevin McGettrick, who came in eighth place with a time of 26:11, and sophomore Dan Mueller, who came in 18th with a time of 26:40.

Junior Joe Lust finished 25th with a time of 26:58 and freshman Dan Chebot finished 27th with a time of 27:03.

The team totaled just 80 points, finishing behind only Otterbein College by 17 points and the invitational host and champion, SUNY Geneseo, who had 56 points.

“This was the first meet that we got to run against some of the teams we’ll see at those meets, such as SUNY Brockport and Geneseo, and we convincingly beat Brockport and were within reaching distance of Geneseo, a nationally ranked-team,” McGettrick said. “Everyone ran very strongly and nearly ran their fastest time ever. The course is fairly flat, and conditions were good, so that was the cause of such fast times.”

Despite the impressive performance, Stevens is still looking to do better.

“I’m happy with the time and where I am right now, but we all still need to focus on improving,” Stevens said. “Hopefully, we’ll continue to improve once we get on some other quick courses later in the year during some of the championship meets.”

Another key factor to the Yellowjackets’ performance this weekend came from the freshmen, like Chebot.

“Our freshmen have really stepped up and are a huge factor in our success,” McGettrick said. “With that, we have a good mix of new guys and upperclassmen, and after this weekend I’m even more confident in the team achieving its goals and being successful in future seasons.”

The Yellowjackets are provided with a look at the national championship course this weekend as the top runners travel to Ohio Wesleyan University for the Pre-Nationals Invitational. This trip should be a good preview for the Yellowjackets and should provide them with some insight for what the race in November will be like.

“After celebrating a successful showing, it’s now time to get back to work with some hard weeks of practice before we really start to peak for the championship meets in November,” McGettrick said. “We still have a lot of room for improvement, but we all believe in our goals and our abilities, so I know we’ll get to where we want to be.”

The rest of the team will stay in Rochester this weekend for an invitational at Nazareth College.

On Oct. 15, the Yellowjackets will host the UR Alumni Invitational.

Philbrick can be reached at ephilbrick@campustimes.org.



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