The Rocket

Men’s cross country returns most core runners from last years championships

This+year+marks+the+40th+Rock+Annual+Alumni+Race+before+kicking+off+intercollegiate+play.
This year marks the 40th Rock Annual Alumni Race before kicking off intercollegiate play.

This year marks the 40th Rock Annual Alumni Race before kicking off intercollegiate play.

Paris Malone

Paris Malone

This year marks the 40th Rock Annual Alumni Race before kicking off intercollegiate play.

Stephen Cukovich, Sports Editor

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Rock men’s cross country looks to get things officially underway with their first meet of the season at the Doug Watts Open at Edinboro University this weekend.

The Rock finished last season with a 10th place finish at last year’s Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championship, with now two-time defending champ Shippensburg University taking first place.  SRU will be missing a big name in Jeremy Parsons, who qualified for National Championships in each of his final three years.  Head coach John Papa explained how what he accomplished as a runner will be a tough thing to match.

“Just him [Parsons] being that upfront runner and constantly running at a very high level, he set a great example in that regard,” Papa said. “He showed guys how it was done.”

Many core runners from last season’s championship will be returning, with junior Daniel Janysha, senior Josh Rader, senior Andrew Maxwell, sophomore Jon Snyder, and sophomore Tanner Schlater. Although not competing in this week’s meet, redshirt sophomore John Marenkovic will return the following meet at the Lock Haven Invitational after missing last season with an injury.

“[Marenkovic] has front-runner ability,” Papa said. “I think if anybody is going to step up at the level that Jeremy was at he might be the guy.”

SRU will add six true freshmen to their roster in Ben Buckless, Jon Folkerts, Troy Shattuck, Noah Yake, Alex Dickson, and LeShawn Huff.

This fall will prove to be busy for The Rock as they are set to host five collegiate meets which include the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional and the National Championships.  Another new addition for the team will be their new home course, which is located at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds which is where they will host the Bill Lennox Invitational on Oct. 6.

“We had to make some new trails and cut right through the woods. That took a lot more work than one would think with stumps and grounds, and we built a bridge,” Papa said. “Half of the course is out flat, out in the open, you just need to lawn mow it and look for little gopher holes and that kind of thing. The other half needed a lot of attention. We’re hoping to one day host a lot of big events out there and do kind of what we did out there at Cooper’s Lake.”

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Men’s cross country returns most core runners from last years championships