2017 CWRU Men’s Cross Country Season Preview

2017 CWRU Men’s Cross Country Season Preview

Senior and 2016 All-American Sam Merriman will lead an experienced group of 20 returners for the Spartans, as the Case Western Reserve University men's cross country team will get its 2017 season underway this Friday, September 1st at the Sudeck Sunset Classic Stampede in Hunting Valley, Ohio at the Squire Valleevue Farm.

The Spartans were ranked fifth in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Great Lakes Region Preseason Poll and received votes in the organization's national preseason rankings.  After finishing sixth at the Great Lakes Region Championships last November, the Spartans will be returning five of their seven finishers in the event, including Merriman, senior Aidan DeSanto, sophomore Luke Robbins, junior James De La Cruz, and senior Joseph Volpe.  Merriman, who finished seventh at the regionals, would go on to qualify individually and place 21st at the NCAA Championships to become the eighth All-American in the program's history.

Merriman also placed third at the 2016 University Athletic Association Championships, earning All-UAA First Team honors and leading the team to a seventh-place finish, and won the All-Ohio Championships, helping the Spartans finish fourth in the team standings.

"Sam without a doubt is one of the top runners in the history of CWRU cross country," said Head Coach Kathy Lanese, who will be starting her 17th season at the program's helm this year.  "He broke a 40-year old track and field record last year, and we expect him to build on that for the upcoming season."

The squad will be bolstered by the return of senior Zach Roshon, who was a top-five finisher for the team on four occasions as a sophomore, but missed the cross country season during his junior year.  Senior Ben Whitman will join Merriman as a team captain, while seniors James Gibson, Michael Girbino and Nicholas Knorz will add leadership and experience.  Further depth will come from juniors Joseph Cabral, Paul Halliday, Robert Iriye and Ben Resnick, along with sophomores Jacob Goldberg, Andrew Green, David Hall, Michael Klein, Ian Parker and Karthik Ravichandran.

"Aidan DeSanto has been a leader on the squad for the last couple of years, and I think he's going to be a key player in keeping the top team together," said Lanese.  "Zach Roshon is returning after a co-op last year and should be a significant contributor to this year's squad, and Ben Whitman, also a senior captain, will round out our top scorers"

Newcomers to this year's squad include sophomores Tim Andrews, Michael Hradesky, and Xavier Yozwiak, and freshmen Dmytro Blundell, Daniel Grasing, Nathan Mack, Rory Owens, Thomas Patton, Yoshmar Pinal-Alfaro, Eric Rachita, and Ryan Tatton.

"We are fortunate to have a team that is a blend of experienced competitors, but us also one with a strong group of young runners that have potential to make an impact on the team's scoring this year," said Lanese.

The Spartans will open their 2017 season on Friday, hosting the annual Sudeck Sunset Classic Stampede.  The meet, which honors the Spartans' late, legendary Head Coach Bill Sudeck, will get started with the men's 6,000-meter run at 5:30 p.m., to be followed by the women's 4,000-meter run at 6:15 p.m.  Also competing at the meet will be John Carroll University, Albion College, and the Ursuline College women.

Other key meets during the year include the All-Ohio Championships on Friday, September 29th in Cedarville, Ohio and the 2017 UAA Championships, hosted by New York University in Woodland Park, New Jersey on Saturday, October 28th.  The Spartans will then turn their attention towards the NCAA Great Lakes Region Championship in Powell, Ohio on Saturday, November 11th, as the team will try to qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships, hosted by Principia College in Elsa, Ill., the following Saturday, November 18.

Full results of the Sudeck Sunset Classic Stampede and a recap of the Spartan's performances at the meet will be posted to athletics.case.edu following the completion of competition on Friday.