UMBC is about to embark on a new adventure in the America East.
Last year UMBC had its best finish in the NEC Conference Championships finishing second only a few points behind the regional powerhouse of St Francis (PA). This year the Retrievers are going to face even greater competition without the assistance of runners Phil Knowlton and Lloyd Dodge.
But everyone is excited. With a move to the America East Conference, Head Coach Murray Davis expects his team to respond to the higher level of competition and achieve even greater success.
"I am excited about going into the new conference," said Davis. "It is a step in the right direction for this school and I think our team is up for the challenge."
UMBC will be led by NEC All-Conference runners, Captain Adam Driscoll and sophomore Izudin Mehmedovic.
Mehmedovic started slow but finished strong. His 7th place finish at the NEC conference championships was only a sample of what he could do. By the end of the outdoor season Mehmedovic had set a personal best and school record in the 1500m with a time of 3:50 and was the anchor on the UMBC record breaking 4x800 team that ran 7:35, finishing with a split of 1:51.
Driscoll was a staple of consistency for the cross country team last season. He finished 13th at last yearís NEC championships and carried his momentum into the track seasons. During the indoor conference championships, Driscoll finished 3rd in the 3000m race with a time of 8:30. During his outdoor campaign Driscoll capped off an exciting year with a victory in the NEC Championship 10,000 meter race.
"I usually donít like watching those long distance races," said David Bobb, assistant cross country coach. "But Adam always finds a way to make the race exciting."
Providing support for Mehmedovic and Driscoll are Captain Greg Saylor and junior Jessie Stump. Saylor was riddled with injuries last year but was still able to finish 21st at the NEC Championships. This year Saylor should reach his true potential and contend for the number one spot as he is finally injury free.
Jessie Stump was a top five runner all year for UMBC and finished in 27th place at the NEC Championship meet. Stump had a great outdoor season running a personal best of 3:55 in the 1500 at NECís, finishing 4th and a split of 1:53 on the 4x800 team at IC4Aís.
Senior Aaron Johnson and junior Kevin Hurley are ready to help the Retrievers aim for the gold. Johnson was the teams 6th man consistently in cross-country and was a part of the 4x800 relay that ran 7:35 at IC4Aís. Hurley was injured for most of the year last year, but he comes into this year in great shape and should compete for a spot in the top 5. Mike Caputi is also a senior this year comes in the fall in the best shape of his life and is hoping to help push the Retrievers to the top.
A promising group of sophomores will be battling for the final varsity spots. Ryan Cartwright, Aaron Smith, John Commins, and Chris Baumler will all add much needed depth to an already talented squad. Last year Cartwright was consistently in the top seven throughout the year and finished 34th overall at NEC championships.
The Retrievers bring in five new freshmen who will become the foundation for future success. Mike Brady (Monsignor Donovan/Toms River, NJ), Isaac Matthews (Oxon Hill/Oxon Hill,MD), Peter Ramdial (Bowie/Bowie, MD), Shawn Shokry (Hanover Park/Florham Park), and J.J. Wetzel (Archbishop Spalding/Crofton, MD) will join the men's squad.
"I'm very pleased with this incoming class," said Davis. "All are outstanding student-athletes, and will help us become extremely competitive in the America East Co