2011 Men's Cross Country Preview - Raiders Aim to Stay Atop OAC

Tim Kelly
Tim Kelly

ALLIANCE, Ohio--The Mount Union men's cross country team hopes to welcome new head coach Kevin Lucas the same way it said goodbye to long-time coach John Homon: a winner. Eight of the top eleven runners return from last year's team that won the Ohio Athletic Conference championship.

Lucas takes control of the team after serving as the women's cross country coach the past two years. Now in charge of both programs, Lucas has proven to be up to the task of following an OAC coaching legend. In the spring, he led both the men's and women's track and field teams to OAC championships.

Leading the list of returning runners is senior Erik Reed (East Liverpool/East Liverpool), who earned First Team All-OAC honors by finishing in 9th place at the OAC Championships a year ago. Tim Kelly (Lakewood/Lakewood) and Cory Hoover (Alliance/Marlington) are the only other seniors on the roster. Kelly finished 20th at the OAC Championships last season, just missing All-OAC honors.

A glance at the roster gives the impression of a young team. However, several underclassmen contributed a year ago and are primed for the challenge of repating as conference champions. Juniors Matt Miller (Lakewood/Lakewood) and Jon Karmazin (Salem/United Local) and sophomores Rob Sassa (Naperville, Ill./Nequa Valley), Jake Boyer (East Liverpool/East Liverpool), and Joshua Clemence (Akron/Firestone) finished in the top 50 at the OAC Championships and will push to earn points for the team throughout the season.

The team travels to Tiffin for the Dragon Invitational this weekend. The remainder of the schedule is highlighted by races September 10th in North Canton at Walsh and the OAC Championships on October 29th, hosted by Ohio Northern. Both of these races were won by the Purple Raiders last year.