By: patrick mcadams – Staff Writer
The 2014 edition of the University of Dayton Cross Country Team can be summed up in one word – youth. Runners without collegiate experience create the nucleus of the team as the program relies on five underclassmen in their group of top seven runners.
The Flyers finished fourth in both the Queen City Invitational in Mason, Ohio, last week, and in the Flyer 5K in Kettering, Ohio, on Aug. 30.
Next, the Flyers will race in South Bend, Indiana, for the National Catholic Invitational Sept. 19, which will be the first taste of 8K intercollegiate racing for the freshmen on the roster.
Senior Michael Russell is the elder statesman of this year’s Flyers. His 31st-place finish at the Flyer 5K and 13th-place finish at the Queen City Invitational helped the Flyers stay competitive so far this season.
Russell said that the dynamic of the team has changed completely since he started with the team in 2011. The team graduated three seniors last year.
“This year it’s a really young team,” Russell said. “In our top seven, one junior [Matthew Krakora] and I are the only upperclassmen. It’s just a really different perspective.”
It’s the 7 a.m. workouts that bring the team together, where progress is made and where leaders like Russell keep the team energized and focused.
It is, however, the ‘pasta parties’ that bring the team together as a family unit while carbo-loading before a race.
Russell said that the team is growing as a unit, partially from their pack running workouts. Tempo runs, which are seven-to -10 mile controlled workouts, help keep the group of runners in a tight formation in an effort to help pair and pace the group with the most effective runners, including Russell.
Russell said the goal in the tempo runs is to take the pack running style and shave off seconds together.
“My goal in that workout and other workouts is to bring the younger guys with me as long as possible,” Russell said.
Some days, the freshmen get the best of him, which does not deter Russell from working with them but could provide a promising bit of foreshadowing for the cross-country program in years to come.
Tyler Adgalanis has taken advantage of both the guidance of upperclassmen and his personal work ethic.
Adgalanis, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, stands out after the first two meets. His finishes of 21st at the Flyer 5K and 23rd at the Queen City Invitational earned him Atlantic 10 Conference Cross-Country Rookie of the Week honors two weeks in a row.
He accredits the opportunity to succeed with his teammates and the curiosity of how far he can push himself as driving forces behind his running career.
Not to hide his competitive spirit, defeating the area schools is a major priority for Adgalanis.
“We were really happy at Queen City [Invitational] because we were able to beat Xavier and Cincinnati,” Adgalanis said. “At the Flyer 5K, we wanted to beat Miami, but weren’t able to. We’ll get them later on in the season.”
Ambition of young Flyers isn’t uncommon around UD athletics.
After the community experienced the giant-killing mentality of the basketball team in the 2013 NCAA tournament, the underclassmen runners’ attitude fosters a mentality of growth that will be welcomed with open arms from supporters of UD athletics.