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Men’s Cross Country Begins Conference Title Defense With First Meet of the Season on Friday
J.J. Wetzel earned America East All-Conference honors last season.
Kathleen Galan was the top Retriever finisher in six races last season.
With four of the top 16 finishers in the America East Conference men’s cross championships returning, the UMBC men’s team has high hopes of defending its league title and capturing the America East crown for a second season. Like the men, the women return four of their top five finishers from a year ago and will look to make a jump up the conference ladder, as both teams start their season on Friday, Sept. 1 at the Mount St. Mary’s Twilight Run.
When the Retrievers take to the course, reigning America East Men’s Coach of the Year Murray
“The championship is ours to defend and whoever wins is going to have to take it away from us to get it for sure,”
Leading the list is senior J.J. Wetzel, who has been named one of the team’s captains in 2006. Wetzel came on strong down the stretch last season, finishing as the second Retriever to cross the line at the Lafayette Invitational just prior to charging through the field for an eighth-place finish at the league championships, earning America East All-Conference accolades.
Senior Blake Davis, whose brother Kirby won the individual title for the
A third senior the UMBC men will expect a lot from is Shawn Shokry. Shokry was the Retrievers’ second finisher in three meets and placed 11th at the conference championships. Sophomore Anthony Kelhower, who was the top freshman finisher a year ago, is expected to develop into one of the top Retriever runners as well. A consistent scorer, Kelhower finished 13th in the conference meet as a rookie and could really make an impact as the season goes on.
Looking to add to the hype will be a number of returning runners, including seniors Chris Baumler, Peter Ramdial, Alex Driscoll and Mike Brady, while
On the women’s side,
“I think with some of the new recruits we have and the fitness levels the girls brought into camp in August, they’re going to perform at a higher level than everyone expects,”
Replacing Thomas will not be easy, but the emergence of senior Kathleen Galan last year will help the Retrievers set the pace. Galan finished as one of the top Retriever runners in six races, including leading UMBC across the line at the Lehigh Paul Short Run and at the Lafayette Invitational. Galan came in 26th at the America East Championships last year following Thomas’ 20th-place finish.
Senior Morgan Little, tabbed as a co-captain along with Galan, returns as well. Little was the fifth Retriever to cross the line at the America East Championships last year and will be looked upon for veteran leadership with a number of younger athletes on the team.
Tawny Barin, entering her junior year, has been a consistent runner for the Retrievers and is one of the top returning athletes. Also look for UMBC’s depth to come from sophomores Allison Mathis and Emily Saltsman along with five newcomers – freshmen Suzanne Gabriel, Mairin Leahy and Sarah Murphy, sophomore Nayda Pirela and junior Feven Tsegai – all of whom will be looking to boost UMBC up the conference ladder.