Wednesday, October 14, 2009

UAlbany Hosts 43rd Annual Cross Country Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 17

Albany, N.Y. - The University at Albany will host the 43rd Annual Cross Country Invitational on a campus course this Saturday, Oct. 17. The Bobbi Palma Women's Championship Race, a 5,000-meter event, begins at 10:05 a.m. The R.K. Munsey Men's Championship Race, an 8,000-meter circuit, starts at 10:40 a.m.

This year's field includes at least 27 men's teams and 26 women's teams encompassing all three NCAA divisions and the community college level. Harvard highlights the largest contingent of Division I schools to enter into the field which is only rivaled by the one at Penn State University this weekend in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The Crimson men and women are ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I Northeast Region poll. Both squads will showcase their depth on the University Campus Course, as they are also sending many of their top performers to Pre-Nationals at Terre Haute, Ind. Massachusetts, Binghamton and Marist are three top-15 programs in the region that will challenge for the men's team title. Sacred Heart, Canisius and Marist, which consistently rank among the top programs in their respective conferences, will aim to take the women's crown.

A total of five nationally-ranked programs and eight regionally-ranked squads that compete at the NCAA Division II and III levels are expected to be in attendance. The New York Institute of Technology highlights the list of Division II schools competing. The men's team is ranked seventh in the latest Division II East Region poll, and the women have been tabbed as high as ninth.

The Middlebury women were ranked 10th in the Division III national poll released on Oct. 7, while the Brandeis women were 17th and the Judge men were 27th. Plattsburgh State's men and women are also top-25 programs. Other regionally-ranked schools competing at the meet include the Middlebury men and the Rochester Institute of Technology men's and women's squads.

The UAlbany men's team, which is coming off a fourth-place finish behind three nationally and regionally-ranked schools at George Mason, is extremely young with only one upperclassman represented in the squad's top 10. Freshman Alex Leuchanka, the 2008 New York Cross Country Federation champion on the scholastic level, has finished first for the Great Danes in all three meets this season. He won his first collegiate race at the Monmouth XC Kick-Off, leading UAlbany to the team title for the second straight year. Rounding out the top seven for the UAlbany men are redshirt freshman Paul Lagno, freshman Sean Halpin, freshman Craig Weiss, junior David Rothman, sophomore Jack Kelley and redshirt freshman Ethan Clary.

The UAlbany women's team has also relied on its underclassmen throughout the fall, and is expected to field the youngest squad at the America East Conference Cross Country Championships in two weeks. Sophomore Ada Lauterbach, who was honored as the America East performer of the week earlier this month, has paced the group so far. A 2009 ECAC outdoor qualifier in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, she became the fifth straight Great Dane to win the individual title at the Monmouth XC Kick-Off, and has finished first on the team at every meet this fall. Ally Panos and Jenn Pierson, a pair of juniors, and four freshmen, led by Miranda McConnell, complete the team's top seven for the invitational. McConnell was second on the squad behind Lauterbach at the last two meets, while classmates Mikala Anson, Melissa Del Rosario and Emily Finnegan have also fared well heading into the weekend's final opportunity for the squads to gear up for the upcoming championship portion of the schedule.

43rd UAlbany Cross Country Invitational
Schedule of Events (University Campus Course)
9:00 a.m. - Women's Gold 5K Race
9:35 a.m. - Men's Purple 8K Race
10:05 a.m. - Bobbi Palma Women's Championship 5K Race
10:40 a.m. - R.K. Munsey Men's Championship 8K Race

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

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