The Slippery Rock mens’ cross-country team is set to start their season this fall being ranked seventh in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference(PSAC) in a pre-season poll. Head Coach John Papa believes that if the team is healthy and strong this season they could finish higher in the rankings. “We’re going to Kutztown in September and if we perform well there we’re going to move up in the rankings,” Papa said about what it will take to improve their rank. In the past, the top three teams have been taken from the Mid-Atlantic Region to compete at the National meet. However, this year the top three teams from each region will qualify, and several other teams will be chosen on a bid system.
“September 16th will be the first weekend that counts towards the national rankings…that’ll be a really good meet to show us where we’re at,” coach Papa said.
When asked about who he’ll be looking for strong performances from Papa explained that he’s looking to sophomores Jared Nelson and Dan Janyska as being much improved off last year and looking to make an impact. He also mentioned that he’ll be looking for the seniors Jeremy Parsons and Jeff Henderson to lead the pack and finish out their last year strong.
Parsons has been to the National meet the last two years and had an All-American finish two years ago. Parsons’ goal this year is to make the National meet a third year in a row and walk away with another All-American performance.
“I was not happy with how last season ended. I was glad I made it to the big stage of nationals, but from what I did the year before I walked away knowing I should have done much better,” said Parsons.
Parsons says that he believes he’s in better shape now than he was now last year.
“I am just going to take it one race at a time and try to keep on pace for the season,” said Parsons.
The Rock men will start their season officially at the Marty Uher Invitational at California University of Pennsylvania. After that the Rock will compete four times before the PSAC Championships at California University in October. There will be no home meets for the team because of scheduling conflicts for the Cooper’s Lake Campground course.