The Case Western Reserve University men's cross country team is scheduled to start its 2018 season this week, when the team plays host to the Sudeck Sunset Classic Stampede on Friday, August 31st at the Squire Valleevue Farm in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
The squad is coming off a season in which it recorded seventh-place finishes at both the 2017 NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional Championships and the University Athletic Association Championships. However, after graduating one of the best runners in program history in two-time All-American Sam Merriman, the Spartans will be looking to recreate their identity behind a talented pack of runners.
"I would describe the men's team as a rebuilding year with a tremendous amount of potential. They have showed promise this preseason in practice and our time trials," said veteran Head Coach Kathy Lanese, who will be embarking on her 18th season with the team. "We had a front runner then a pack of six runners following in the time trial, so I am interested to see how this group will transition into racing."
A total of 14 runners are slated to return from last year's roster, including four who were among the top-100 finishers at the NCAA Regional Championships last season – senior co-captain Zach Roshon (42nd), and juniors Andrew Green (76th), David Hall (77th) and Karthik Ravichandran (93rd).
"The key returners have the potential to make a significant impact after placing themselves in scoring position last season," said Lanese. "Zach is a fifth-year senior who had an additional year to develop as a runner and would like to follow through with some unfinished goals. Andrew and David are coming into the season fitter and more experienced on the course. Another runner who could be a surprise front runner for us is senior Marc Parnell, who was sidelined for a few years and is returning after some setbacks. Marc has an incredible story, impeccable work ethic, and is ready to unveil his fitness in the racing environment."
Adding to the team's experience are senior Robert Iriye, who will serve as a team co-captain for the upcoming season, junior Tim Andrews, who placed 72nd at the UAA Championships last year, and junior Luke Robbins, who placed 52nd at the NCAA Regionals his freshman year. Other returners for the Spartans include senior Ben Resnick, juniors Michael Hradesky and Michael Klein, and sophomores Daniel Grasing, Rory Owens, Thomas Patton, Yoshmar Pinal-Alfaro, Eric Rachita and Ryan Tatton.
The depth of CWRU's roster is slated to be bolstered by the addition of six freshmen and a transfer student for the upcoming year, all of which will be aiming to make an impact on the team.
"We have a nice freshman class coming in," said Lanese. "It is always a difficult jump from 5k racing in high school to a collegiate 8k, but I see a few freshman who are ready to take that challenge. In preseason, Spencer Weigand and Christopher Heermann showed great potential in our trials, and I see them trying to push their way up front during the season."
Sophomore Trey Razanauskas will join the team after running his freshman season at Washington & Jefferson College and placing 63rd at the NCAA Regionals. Other freshman additions to the roster include Maxwell Griesheimer, Rahul Mikkilineni, Bryden Moxley and Alex Rollins.
The Spartans will open their season with a pair of meets, the Sudeck Sunset Classic Stampede and the Gator Invitational in Meadville, Pennsylvania, before traveling to Akron for the All-Ohio Championships on September 29th. After tune-ups with an Alumni Race on October 6th and at the Inter-regional Rumble in Oberlin, Ohio on October 13, the Spartans will the turn their attention to the 2018 University Athletic Association Championships in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
"Our goal is always to improve our conference performance," said Lanese. "If we are not one of the top-four teams in the UAA then we always have work to do. Every race this year is to prepare us to be smart performers and to increase our standings as the season progresses."
Following the UAA Championships, Case Western Reserve will head to the 2018 NCAA Division III Great Lakes Region Championships, hosted by Franklin University in Shelbyville, Indiana on Saturday, November 10th. Runners who qualify at the regional meet for the NCAA Division III Championships will compete the following Saturday at the Lake Breeze Golf Course in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
First, however, CWRU will face John Carroll University in a 6K race at the Sudeck Sunset Classic Stampede on Friday. The annual meet is named after Bill Sudeck, who was the head basketball coach at CIT and CWRU for 37 years and was head cross country and track & field coach for 46 years.
The women's race is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. start, to be followed by the men's race at 6:15 p.m. Complete results and team scores, along with a recap, will be posted to athletics.case.edu following the completion of competition on Friday.