Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams started off their seasons Saturday with a bang. They both dominated the competition at the SUNY Brockport Cross Country Invitational — the men’s team placed four runners in the top five while the women placed three in the top ten.

The men were led to their victory by senior captain Brian Lang, who placed first with a time of 25:30.64. Senior Frank Ramirez placed third followed shortly by senior Jon Pinto and Adam Pacheck at fourth and fifth, respectively. The displacers were senior captain Craig Baumgartner and freshman Yuji Wakimoto who both finished in the top ten.

The men’s team is expected to go far this year — head coach Jon Izzo believes the team has the necessary talent and experience to compete for the New York State title as well as the NCAA Cross Country Championships. The Yellowjackets will be led this year by three senior captains: Lang, Baumgartner, and Dan Lane, who should provide powerful leadership. The team is joined by a gifted group of freshmen, five of which competed at the state level in high school. The victory this past weekend should only be the beginning as the season looks quite promising for the men.

The women’s team got off to an equally good start at Brockport taking first this past weekend. Led by senior Lauren Norton, the ’Jackets scored 41 points to edge out the Houghton College and Brockport teams, who scored 48 and 54 points respectively. Norton gained an early lead and won with a course record time of 23:05. She was followed by sophomore Zarah Quinn in fourth, senior Megan O’Connor in eighth, freshman Jennifer Olsen in 10th and freshman Carrie Gulvin in 18th. Freshmen Zoe Edmunds and Danielle Bessette were the displacers.

Head coach Barbara Hartwig was pleased with the victory, but is still looking forward to making the team even stronger.

“It is always nice to win and a good result for working so hard this summer,” she said. “We will need to push our top five closer together to be competitive on the larger stage and we will need our runners to stay healthy.  We are still waiting on a few upperclassmen to get healthy and get back into racing.”

Next week both teams face tough competition at the SUNY Oneoneta Airfield Invitational. That is  where they will compete against some of the top teams in New York and New Jersey.

“This weekend was kind of a ‘feel it out’ type race, since it was our first,” Quinn said. “I think our victory at Brockport will give us the confidence to really hold our own next weekend at Oneonta, where some of our stiffest competition will be.

Penney is a member of the class of 2012.

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