The Slippery Rock University men’s cross-country team took home second place at the Doug Watts Distance Gala at Edinboro University Saturday afternoon.
Slippery Rock scored 39 points, trailing only the host team Edinboro University (20). The Rock was followed by Glenville State University with 85 and Penn State Dubois with 119. “We had all the competition we needed with Edinboro” head coach John Papa said of the smaller-sized meet. “It could have easily been just us and Edinboro. This was a good meet for the guys who have never run college cross country to get their feet wet.”
The Rock was led by junior Jeremy Parsons. The best runner on the team a year ago, Parsons started the season off with a bang by winning the race with an impressive time of 25:31.3, leaving a gap of 37 seconds between himself and the second-place runner from Edinboro in the 8,000-meter race. “He has a lot of natural ability and desire. You can tell that he wants to do extremely well and he works hard” Papa said of his team’s leader. “Sometimes runners have 1 or 2 of the ingredients to be an elite runner, but he has quite a few of the ingredients and he takes advantage of all of them. He has a great work ethic.”
Another top Green and White runner, junior Jeff Henderson, had a very solid meet, placing seventh with a time of 26:38.1. Coach Papa had high praise for the Rock’s second-placing runner. “Jeff is just going to get better and better. The longer the races the better, once other athletes start getting tired later in the season is when Jeff is really going to shine.” Henderson was joined by teammates freshman John Marenkovic and sophomore Andrew Maxwell, who rounded out the top ten at ninth and 10th with times of 27:14.8 and 27:23.2, respectively.
Slippery Rock finished the day by adding two more solid performances by senior Stephen Shephard and freshman Nathan Schultz, who took home 13th and 14th with times of 27:57.5 and 27:58.0. Shephard was the fifth and final scorer for the Green and White.
Cross-country will not hit the track again until Sept. 17 at the Division II and III Cross Country Challenge , hosted by Kutztown University. Coach Papa said of the break “You want to get more experience, but early in the season it is important to not stress yourself too much. All of these races up to the PSAC and regionals are practices”