By Anna Poulter-Hendrickson
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The Holy Cross men's cross country team returns to Mount St. James after a summer of intense distance training and looks to improve on a very solid 2009 campaign. Head coach, and Richard L. Ahern '51 Director of Cross Country, Track & Field, Jim Kavanagh has set high expectations for this year's squad, "The team should improve its finish considerably in the New England Championship and we look forward to one of our best performances at Notre Dame and the Patriot League Championship," says Kavanagh.
Kavanagh returns 12 letterwinners from last year's team and welcomes 10 newcomers. He has tabbed seniors James Fletcher and Chris Bergan to serve as captains for the 2010 season. "The co-captains James Fletcher and Chris Bergan have proven to be effective leaders through the summer and pre-season running," stated Kavanagh. "Both should be contending for top five spots on a very competitive team." Fletcher will make his return to the cross country course after missing last season with an injury, while Bergan returns after a strong junior campaign.
Holy Cross will look to the experience of its upperclassmen to fill out the top spots on the roster. Kavanagh looks to senior Brendan Medeiros, along with juniors Dan Altenau and Cory Loftis and sophomore Dylan Leazes to round out the top five. "The continued improvement of Dan Altenau and Brendan Medeiros, along with the return of a healthy Cory Loftis and Dylan Leazes makes the top four very solid," said Kavanagh. Loftis finished the 2009 season with the top team finish in four meets, including a team-best 22nd place finish at the Patriot League Championship, while Altenau crossed the line just behind him in six meets. Leazes will look to improve on a strong rookie campaign where he was the only Holy Cross freshman to earn a spot in the lineup at the National Catholic Championship, earning Patriot League Rookie of the week honors for his 48th place finish.
The Crusaders will bolster their top ten with the return of juniors Mark Drago and Stephen Madsen and the gained experience of sophomores Nick Poles, Chris Schaller, Kyle Shepard, Brian Treadway and Kevin Turner. "The team should have a stronger one through 10 than in past seasons and should be featuring a very tight group identity," says Kavanagh. Madsen recorded the top team time at the UMass-Dartmouth Invitation last season, while Drago competed in five meets for the Crusaders. Shepard opened the season as the top Holy Cross rookie at the Blue Devil Invitational and then capped off the season with the second-best finish on the team at the IC4A Championship, while both Treadway and Turner put in some serious miles, competing in seven meets for the Crusaders.
The 10 newcomers will find a challenge when they arrive at Holy Cross, as the returning group of letterwinners features strong runners. Newcomers Nick Athanasidy, Brian Brazeau, Jeffrey Dykes, Sean Hagan, Greg Hamalian, Zach Maddigan, Sam McGrath, Nick Petsky, Tom Santa Maria and Dylan Villescas will look to break into the top ten this fall.
The Crusaders will kick off the season at the Bryant Invitational on Sept. 3, followed by the Blue Devil Invitational at Central Connecticut on Sept. 11 A busy weekend then awaits the Crusaders as some runners will compete at the National Catholic Championship at Notre Dame on Sept. 17 while others will participate in the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational on Sept. 18.
Holy Cross kicks off October at the Murray Keatinge Invitational at Maine on Oct. 2, then heads to the New England Championship one week later in Boston on Oct. 9. On Oct.16, the Crusaders will compete at the Leopard Invitational before racing in the Central Connecticut Mini Meet on Oct. 22. Holy Cross will finish out the month at the Patriot League Championship on Oct. 30. The Crusaders' schedule ends with the NCAA Northeast Regional on Nov. 13 and the IC4A Championship on Nov. 20.