Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mid-Atlantic Regional Preview: Men's Race

This from host Penn State's athletic site:

The men's field is also just as loaded at the front, with a trio of programs in the national top 30, and a fourth team just outside the rankings in 35th. Ivy League Champion Princeton is the top ranked squad coming into the weekend at 17th, with junior front-runner Donn Cabral leading a seasoned Tiger squad. Cabral used an individual victory to pace the Tigers, who are much improved from a sixth-place regional finish a year ago, to a third-place finish in the team standings in a loaded field at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational last month, prior to earning a sixth-place standing at the Pre-Nationals Blue Race. The Tigers dominated the Ivy League two weeks ago, winning their fourth title in the last five years, thanks to four athletes in the top eight finishers.

The No. 26 Nittany Lions have impressed during the course of the fall campaign, entering the national spotlight via a fifth-place finish at the Notre Dame Invitational, in which the Lions knocked off a total of five nationally-ranked programs in the race, including regional foe Villanova, and then fifth-ranked Alabama. The Nittany Lions' fall success has hinged on the outstanding one-two punch of Dawson and McNally, who both earned all-conference finishes, marking the first time two Penn State men have earned All-Big Ten honors at the same meet in a decade. Dawson and McNally provided a two-three finish at the highly competitive PSU National in October, leading the team to a second-place showing. McNally led the way at Notre Dame, placing seventh in a field chalked full of NCAA All-Americans, with Dawson following in 13th overall.

The Nittany Lion men have also succeeded on depth and strength of the pack, with seniors Owen Dawson (Coatesville, Pa.), and Ryan Foster (Tasmania, Australia), junior Chris Cipro (Harmony, Pa.), and sophomore Danny Pawola (Naperville, Ill.) all turning in outstanding campaigns thus far. Foster posted a stellar effort as the Lions' third man at the Big Ten meet, placing 27th overall, with Pawola just behind in 34th. Cipro, who was the Lions' third finisher at the Penn State National, rounded out the scoring for the Lions at Big Tens with a 46th-place effort. The Lions' young and talented top seven contingent has also included sophomores Tom Luff (Emmaus, Pa.) and Tyler Corkedale (West Windsor, N.J.), and freshman Nick Scarpello (Jamison, Pa.) throughout the season.

Also in the hunt will be Big East rivals Villanova and Georgetown. Villanova claimed an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships via a second-place finish at the Mid-Atlantic Regional a year ago, while the Hoyas return as the defending region champions. Going into the weekend, Villanova holds the edge at No. 29 in the USTFCCCA rankings, with Georgetown just outside the top 30 in 35th. Wildcat sophomore Matt Mildenhall is the region's top returner, following a runner-up effort as a rookie in 2009. Teammate Hugo Beamish also returns after a fourth-place finish in the region last year. Mildenhall would go on to lead the Wildcats to an 11th-place finish at the NCAA Championships last year, while the Hoyas wound up 22nd overall.

Villanova bettered Georgetown in their last meeting, with the Wildcats taking fourth and the Hoyas placing sixth at the Big East Championships. Ayalew Taye of Georgetown was the top finisher from either squad in fifth, with Mildenhall following in eighth. Villanova's top effort during the regular season was a third-place finish at the Penn State National, while Georgetown engineered a sixth-place finish in the White Race at Pre-Nationals on the same weekend.

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