The men’s cross country team had a bumpy start to their season, but they are still looking forward to a promising fall.

The dreary weather of the morning seemed to foreshadow their performance, as the Yellowjackets finished third of three teams at Saturday’s meet in Genesee Valley Park.

The men were slightly disadvantaged, however, because they had only six participants in the race. This was due to “the rest of the team [being] suspended for one contest due to a violation of institutional rules,” head coach John Izzo said. All the suspended runners will be returning for the next meet.

Junior Mark Stevens did a great job leading the team, coming in as the individual champion of the race. He finished the 8-kilometer course in 26:10, 13 seconds ahead of the runner-up.

“Mark looked very smooth and relaxed and should have another fine season,” Izzo said.

“Judging from the team workouts, Stevens should have an even stronger year than last year,” sophomore Dana Kaplan said.

Senior Brian MacIlvain was 12th overall in the race, clocking in at 28:33 and junior Sean Czaja came in at 30:26. Fourth for the team was Kaplan in 30:46, while senior Andrew Whitbeck was the fifth place finisher for the team with a time of 31:11. UR’s final runner was junior Jon DeRight, who finished in 34:21.

RIT won the meet with their runners placing in second through seventh place, collecting 20 points. SUNY Fredonia was second with 55 points, while the ‘Jackets scored 67.

“I felt that, given the circumstances, the team’s effort was first rate,” Izzo said. “We race in two weeks and should know better where we stand then. We will, however, still not have our complete team at that meet either because of Rosh Hashanah. All in all I am impressed with how hard the team is working and look forward to a good season.”

The ‘Jackets have this coming weekend off and will resume competition on Sept. 22 at pre-nationals in Ohio.

Philbrick can be reached

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