Detroit Mercy - Titan Harriers Begin 2013 Campaign At Oakland
Provided by Detroit Mercy
DETROIT (8/29/2013) -- The 2013 cross country season will officially get underway on Friday as the University of Detroit Mercy men and women will head to enemy territory in Rochester Hills for the Golden Grizzly Open.
The event – scheduled for 5:30 p.m., at the OU Cross Country Facility – will also feature host Oakland along with a few other local schools in Macomb CC, Mott CC and Oakland CC. The women's 4k race will be first followed by the men's 5k.
"The season opener is really about testing the fitness level and just seeing where the team is at this point," said Coach Murray. "Almost everyone will run and sometimes in a race, you can sort things out better than in practice. It will be competitive and will help get the rust off to start the year as we prepare for the Running Fit – Detroit Titan Invitational next week."
Results of the race will be posted as soon as they are available.
The Detroit men might have lost one All-Horizon League performer, but the Titans do have six upperclassmen and five of their top seven runners back from last year's fourth place Horizon League squad.
"This could be a pretty good year for us as we have a nice group returning," said Director of track and field and Cross Country Guy Murray, who will be entering his 21st season as a coach at his alma mater. "With so many returners and the young guys that are developing that I think can make an impact, we have a good chance."
Senior Martin Nelkie headlines the group and is back to contend for a title. The back-to-back Team MVP last season, he was the top Titan in five of UDM's seven races – taking second in the other two – and earning All-HL Second Team after claiming ninth at the conference meet with a career-best 25:38 in the 8k. He then posted a personal record in the 10k at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional with a time of 33:39.
"He needs to keep getting the miles in," said Coach Murray. "He is a strength runner and by the end he needs to be there. He did a great job for us last year and did a great job in the spring in track taking third in the outdoor 10,000-meter and I think he is ready for a big senior year as our leader."
Sam Felton is the other senior and three-year letter winner. He ran in six of Detroit's seven races with a PR in the 4-mile at the Running Fit-Detroit Titan Invitational.
"Sam reported extremely fit and is poised for a big senior year and I think he will be a factor for us," said Coach Murray.
Four juniors round out the upperclassmen and all four have shown signs of competing at the top of the squad. Ylli Alla ran in all seven races and posted his career 8k at the Horizon League Championship in 26:30. Colin Creagh has four top-11 finishes in his career and also ran in all seven races last season, tying his career 8k of 26:01 at Notre Dame's National Catholic Championship, but will start the season facing an injury.
"Colin had an injury and missed outdoor track last year, but he is really talented and if he can get healthy in time, he can really help us and Ylli has been a steady guy for us at the fifth spot and we need him to continue to improve and move up for us," added Coach Murray.
Ryan Hofsess and George Holman both shared the Coach's Award as the two juniors stepped up last season to post some good times. Hofsess recorded a personal record in all but one race on the year with an 8k time of 26:22 at the Greater Louisville Classic, while Holman tallied a PR in all seven races and was the third Titan to cross the finish line at the HL Championship, finishing with a career-best 26:21, and at the NCAA GLR (33:58).
"Both Ryan and George were our dark horses last year and both of them did their job as a dark horse running well and helping us," said Coach Murray. "Ryan had a big sophomore season and he looks like he is ready to make the next step and George came through at the league meet last year and had a big outdoor season in the steeplechase and we need him to keep improving on that."
Five talented underclassmen are on the roster with sophomore Derek Gielarowski having the only collegiate experience running in three events last season. He fought through an injury as a rookie to run in the final 8k races of the year. Three sophomores are on the roster to compete for time in the varsity seven after redshirting last season in Joshua Carolin, Alex Wesche and Austin Wigent, while Ryan Leahy is the lone first-year Titan harrier.
"Derek has the experience and the benefit of running last week, but I think all these guys have the talent to contribute," added Coach Murray.
The Titans will mostly have a local Midwest schedule with three meets in Michigan and one apiece in Indiana, Louisville and Pennsylvania as they get ready for the Horizon League Championship – held in Youngstown, Ohio – and the NCAA Great Lakes Regional – hosted by Wisconsin.
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