Veterans headline sixth-ranked men’s cross-country

Leslie Combs

The men no longer hold the underdog tag coming into 2002. After placing eighth at the NCAA Championships last November and with the return of all their starters, the ‘Cats are on track to race their best season in years. In national preseason polls ‘Nova is consistently ranked in the top 10, with several polls, including the Mondo Men’s NCAA Division I Preseason Cross Country Poll, ranking the men as high as sixth with 354 points. Colorado tops the poll with 444 points, including 14 first place votes.

Expecting to lead the ‘Cats’ pack is senior Adrian Blincoe and junior Ryan Hayden.

New Zealand native Blincoe is coming off a superb track and field season in which he finished fifth in the 1,500m at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and captured first in the 3,000m at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. In January, Blincoe ran 3:47.5 indoors in Boston, breaking Villanova’s school record and he became the third fastest collegiate runner ever to run the 3,000m.

Hayden also earned himself a reputable name on the running circuit when he finished one place behind his teammate in the 1500m last spring, placing sixth at Nationals. Finishing out ‘Nova’s top four runners are returning senior scorers Tom Parlapiano and Jon Fasulo.

Last season, the ‘Cats were unable to find a reliable fifth man, but head coach Marcus O’Sullivan is confident this fall several men will step up. Junior Pat Dunn and sophomore Tom Falvey both have the experience of Nationals under their belts and are likely to run fifth or sixth respectively. Senior Jason Jabaut is also expected to contribute to ‘Nova’s success. “With all the guys back, we are stronger in fifth, sixth and seventh, ” O’Sullivan said.

Another ingredient pointing towards the ‘Cats success in 2002 is the addition of a strong freshman class. Marc Pelerin of Cherokee H.S., N.J., Craig Segal of Hillsdale, Pa., and Milos Mitric of Yugoslavia are showing much promise for the fall.

“The three will be a nice complement to the fifth person that we were lacking,” O’Sullivan said.

The season officially begins Sept. 20 at the annual Haverford Invitational just down the Main Line. On Oct. 5, ‘Nova will travel to Terre Haute, Ind. for Indiana State University’s Invitational for a dress rehearsal of the National course. Opting to skip Pre-Nationals mid-October, the men’s next big meet is the Big East Championship, traditionally held at Franklin Park in Boston, Mass., Nov. 1. Two weeks later, ‘Nova will compete down south in West Virginia at the NCAA Mid Atlantic Regional, where the men are hoping to qualify for Nationals Nov. 25 back in Terre Haute, Ind.