2011 Duquesne Men's Cross-Country Preview

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Last year:  99-37 Overall, 2nd in the A10.

Before Jim Lear came to Duquesne from Pitt, Duquesne was a perennial bottom-feeder in the Atlantic 10 Conference for cross-country, only once EVER finishing in the top half of the A10 while finishing dead last 8 of the 12 previous times DU finished a team.  In the last 10 years, Lear has got the program to finish 4th, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, tied for 3rd, 2nd, 6th, and 2nd.  Quite an accomplishment, especially in an improving Atlantic 10 that has become extremely competitive to where it takes an IC4A time oftentimes to place at the A10 meet in track.

Coming off last year's 2nd place to a senior-laden Richmond team whose top 4 individuals were all seniors, the Dukes were also hit by graduation.  Gone is a top 10 A10 performer Mike Stolar, as is 21st place finisher Mark Bucklaw.  However, things still look good for the Dukes.  Jim Spisak, a Bishop McCort product, finished 10th in the A10 last year as a sophomore and is looking to improve on that performance.  Scott Van Kooten from Pittsburgh Central Catholic was 11th in the A10 and will be back for his 5th year as will Erik Anderson, who was 15th last year (if comparing to hoops, think a 2nd teamer in Spisak and 2 3rd teamers from last year all returning).  Cam Stauffer was a solid 6th runner for most of last year, including finishing 25th in the A10, and more will likely be expected of him this year.  Chuck Lockwood and Adam Shrawder filled in to round out the top returners from last year.

Incoming recruits are HUGELY ENCOURAGING for the Dukes listed in alphabetical (safe) order.
Paul DeGregorio of Baldwin won the WPIAL 3200 meter run (2 mile) in track.  He also finished 43rd in the state in cross-country. 
Evan Gomez of Butler was a top 10 individual in the WPIAL in cross-country, 37th in the state, and was the WPIAL runner-up in the 800 meter run in track.
Bob Gasior of Central Catholic, who finished 11th in the state in cross-country last year. 
Brandon Krszal of West Allegheny won the WPIAL 800 meter run in track and was 13th in the WPIAL for cross-country, 41st in the state in cross-country.  He keeps the West Allegheny pipeline that Lear has with Jim Hamilton, West A's coach, going.
Alex Woodrow of Marion Center finished 11th in the AA PIAA Cross Country Champs, 7th in the state in the AA 3200 meter run in track.
Getting 2 WPIAL track champions in the 3 distance events is obvioiusly tremendous for the Dukes program going forward.  All five of the Dukes recruits were in the top 50 in the state in cross-country, including 2 in the top 11 in the state in their divisions (and not the same 2 that were WPIAL Champs in track).  At least one, perhaps 2, of these guys may be needed to step in right away (always hard to do considering the length of the course changes from 5k in high school to 8k for men in college) but I like the chances with this group, particularly going forward.

The Dukes were predicted 3rd in the A10 this year by the coaches, with La Salle 1st and Richmond 2nd as well as Dayton keeping their 4th place from last year.  La Salle sadly lost Coach Torpey earlier this year, and were coming off a huge down year last year finshing 5th with an extremely young team.  Richmond lost all of their top 4 from last year, with no returners in the top 20 in the A10 last year returning, so I was surprised to see the Spiders that high (though I have no clue of incoming recruits).  As with most years, the goal will be set to try to capture an A10 title as well as a quality place at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional meet where they will look to improve on their 8th place finish from last year.

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