The UMBC men's cross country squad kicks off the defense of its 2013 America East cross country title by competing in the Mount St. Mary's Duals on Friday, August 29. The meets get underway at 1:00 p.m. in Emmitsburg, Md.
Matt Gittermann's 2013 team kicked off a "November to Remember" at UMBC by winning its second America East title. Ironically, both titles have occurred on the same course at Binghamton University. The Retrievers would go on to place ninth, their first-ever top ten finish, at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic regionals.
The team was ranked No. 10 in the Mid-Atlantic ranking in the final 2013 United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I Regional Rankings. The Retrievers were ranked every week that the poll was released last season, a first in program history
In 2014, UMBC returns 12 letterwinners and the squad features ten newcomers, including eight freshmen. Currently, the squad is ranked No. 11 in the USTFCCCA rankings.
The Retrievers last competed at Mount St. Mary's Duals in 2011 finished in a tie for second with a record of 4-1-1.
Senior Eric Schuler (Columbia, Md./Reservoir) and junior Hassan Omar (Frederick Md./Thomas Johnson) should pace the squad in 2014. Schuler was named the America East Men's Cross Country Scholar-Athlete for the fall 2013 season, after being selected to the America East All-Academic Team for the second consecutive year. He holds a perfect 4.0 grade-point-average (GPA) while majoring in computer science. In the first meet of the 2013 season, the America East Pre-Conference Meet at Binghamton, Schuler took the top overall spot as UMBC put the league on notice by winning the team competition
Omar was an America East All-Conference runner after placing third overall at the conference meet at Binghamton. He was named to the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Mid-Atlantic Region Team and was selected to the America East All-Academic Team.
Junior Austin Hayslett (Mount Airy, Md./Urbana) is also primed for an excellent season. Hayslett finished 14th, UMBC's fourth finisher, in the America East Championships.