Sept. 1, 2005
ANNAPOLIS, MD. - The Navy men's cross country team begins its 2005 campaign on Saturday, September 3 at the Sea Gull Opener in Salisbury, Md. The Midshipmen, picked second in the Patriot League preseason poll, look to make another appearance in the NCAA Regionals.
"Going to the NCAA's will be one of our goals," 38th-year head coach Al Cantello said. "After all, we've been there over a dozen times."
Last year's team finished second at the Patriot League Championship, and finished in the top-10 at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional for the fourth-consecutive season. This year's squad returns six letterwinners from a 2004 team that also claimed a N-Star with its 25-34 victory over Army.
Seniors Ty Rose, Joshua Sink and Maksudul Ali posted the top Navy time in five meets last year. Rose recorded a team-best three top Navy finishes in 2004, and will lead the Mids as the team captain in 2005. He crossed the finish line third of 80 competitors in the Navy Invitational, posting a season-best time of 25:15.33.
"Ty was our lead runner in 2004," Cantello stated. "After three years of experience and a good summer of training, he should continue to help lead the pack."
Sink and Ali also significantly contributed to the team's success last year, each finishing first among Navy runners in one meet. Sink helped the Mids claim the N-Star against Army, finishing third with a time of 25:08.17. Ali led all competitors at the Mount St. Mary's Invitational, covering the 5K course in a time of 15:48.08.
"Joshua played a major role in three Navy N-Star victories (cross country, indoor & outdoor track & field) last season," Cantello commented. "Ali transformed himself into a pure long-distance runner."
Fellow juniors Adam Craig and Michael Niemi each participated in six meets and had three top-20 finishes. Sophomore John Olsen ran in six meets in his first season at the Academy, finishing third at the Mt. St. Mary's Invitational.
"Adam might be our biggest surprise this year," Cantello said. "Michael is one of the most religious trainers I've seen over my four decades here." Cantello added, "John's performances last year were stellar considering his lack of a real high school running resume."
Another group of runners to be on the lookout for are sophomores Lucas Burke and John Kress. Burke ran in three meets during his first year in Annapolis, in addition to running distance events for the track and field team. Kress, a fellow distance runner for the track and field squad, competed in two events in his freshman campaign.
"Lucas had a great summer of training," said Cantello. "John is an anachronism. He is the reason why I come to work."
Also, freshman Andrew Grant brings a solid resume to The Yard. Grant garnered Northeast Georgia Runner of the Year honors while at Oconee County High School and attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School last year.
"He's my enigma," Cantello said. "Consequently, any contribution would be frosting on the cake."
Navy's schedule for the 2005 campaign features seven meets, two of which take place at the USNA Cross Country Course. After opening up their season this Saturday, the Mids travel up to the Bronx for the Fordham Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park on Sept. 10.
Navy comes back to the Academy to play host to the Navy Invitational the following weekend on Sept. 17. The Midshipmen head back on the road for the next two weeks, starting with a trek to Louisville for the Greater Louisville Classic at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer Park on Sept. 24. Navy makes a journey on the following week to South Bend, Ind., for the Notre Dame Invitational on Sept. 30.
The Mids play host to their second home meet of the season, the Navy Four Miler on Oct. 8. Navy returns to the road for the Star Meet versus Army on Oct. 14 at the West Point Golf Course.
After competing in meets for seven-consecutive weeks, the Mids receive a week off before traveling to Bethlehem, Pa., for the Patriot League Championship on Oct. 29. Two weeks later, the Midshipmen make a second visit to Lehigh's Goodman Campus for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional slated for Nov. 12.
The top-two teams in each of the nine regional championships advance to the NCAA Championships. For the second-straight year, the championship will take place at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind.
Teams and individuals failing to finish in the top two of each regional can still qualify as an at-large selection. In addition, the top-four men who place in the top-15 of the regionals and are not on one of the two teams that automatically qualified receive automatic bids to the national championship.