Winning invitationals has been the norm for the Slippery Rock University men’s cross-country team this season. SRU competed in the Don Cathcart Invitational last Saturday in Salisbury, Maryland.
The invitational is named after Don Cathcart, a Salisbury University professor that is very involved with the cross-country teams. Cathcart did the honors of shooting the gun to begin the race. The Rock runners brought home their second team victory of the season at the meet, winning with a total of 68 points.
“It was nice to see some teams from the PSAC [Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference] here and how our men stood against them,” SRU head coach John Papa said. “I’m excited to see how we perform against the more competitive teams at our upcoming meets.”
Following in second place was the United States Naval Academy with 76 points and Christopher Newport University in third place with a total of 118 points. Out of the 20 schools that competed at the meet, SRU was joined by two other teams in the PSAC. Kutztown University placed fifth with 150 points and Mansfield took 11th with 318 points.
The line-up this weekend was a bit different from their last race, with some new faces in the top of the order. Freshman Jeremy Parsons finished fourth overall with a time of 25:18. He had an average pace of 5:05 per mile. Senior Jaron Martin crossed the finish line at 25:36, finishing eighth overall, securing his spot in the top 10. Following the Rock’s top two men were seniors Tyler Melius finishing in 13 place and Theo Reynolds rounding out the top 20. Also representing the Rock were juniors Charlie Frank, Ryan Thompson and Steve Green. Senior Connor MacKelvey was joined by sophomore Tyler Palenchak, who finished together and worked as a team for the entire race.
Freshmen Devin VanGuilder, Jeff Henderson, Evan Zombek and Steve Zombek also competed in their second 8,000 kilometer race of the season.
“The team did very well and it was good to see a strong pack of five runners all finishing within a minute of one another,” Martin said. “The course was totally flat, which gave us a lot of speed and was also very scenic.”
Martin said that traveling with the team is always a lot of fun and the team always makes the most of their time on the road. Martin said that having a good, hardworking team and wanting to contribute has always been his motivation.
“I’ve always loved running and I don’t think it will ever get old,” Martin said.
Papa said that the team will see more competition in their upcoming meet in which they will face three PSAC teams.
“We’re planning to have Lock Haven, Shippensburg and California University of Pennsylvania all at our next meet,” Papa said. “This race will help us see where we stand against some of the better teams in our conference.”
This seasons PSAC Championships are 50 days away, and the team wants to be ready to have the best races of their career, and win their third consecutive invitational.
“Moving up in the conference and qualifying for nationals will require a huge step up from everyone on the team,” Martin said. “Continuing to mix it up will get us closer to where we want to be.”
The Green and White will compete at the Mack Cooper Classic held on their home course at Cooper’s Lake on Oct. 11 at 11 a.m. This will be the last race the men run at Cooper’s Lake until the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Atlantic Regional race on Nov. 22.