Sept. 10, 2002
With a strong late-season surge a year ago, the Georgia Tech men’s cross country squad gained the necessary experience to make the upcoming 2002 campaign a success from the start of the very first race.
“Last year, we ended the season on a great note. We talked about that, we trained for that and it all came to fruition,” said head coach Alan Drosky. After placing sixth at the Atlantic Coast Conference meet, the Jackets were fourth at the NCAA South Region Championships, just missing the program’s first trip to the national meet. “We were right in it until the very end,” Drosky said. “And I think those experiences are going to be very valuable for the men.”
These experiences from 2001 have laid the groundwork for this season’s expectations. “We got to the point where we were competing for the top half of the conference,” said Drosky. “We got to the point where we were battling for a national championship berth. Although we lost some kids from that team, we don’t want to retreat from these expectations.”
Juniors Kyle Rabbitt and Neil McDonagh and senior Brendon Mahoney headline the list of returnees and will be counted on perform at a very high level for the Jackets, who lost three of their top six runners from last season. McDonagh and Rabbitt both earned all-region honors in 2001 and also enjoyed strong track seasons. Rabbitt logged the team’s top times in the indoor 3000 and 5000, as well as the outdoor 5000 and 10,000 meters. McDonagh excelled in a number of events, ranging from 800 to 5000 meters.
Mahoney is a consistent cross country performer, who earned All-America honors in the indoor mile and eclipsed Drosky’s Tech record in the outdoor mile over the summer. He was also the team’s fastest 800-meter performer and earned ACC Indoor Most Valuable Performer honors.
“We return three kids that did great things for us last year and all have made progress since then,” said Drosky.
Following this group will be senior Joe Poliseo, a strong, veteran performer who needs to be a big factor this season. “We need Joe to have a strong cross country season like he has done in track, where he broke 15 minutes in the 5K,” said Drosky.
The next group consists of junior Barton Crist, junior Daniel Moss, senior Jimmy DeYonker and sophomore Adam Jones. All have shown glimpses of breaking through and are poised to make a huge jump in cross country.
“We have a group of kids that have been in the program for one or two years and have made progress,” said Drosky. “From that group we’re going to need several of them to step up in cross country.” Crist had the strongest 2001 of this group, logging a time of 1:52.60 in the 800 meters to rank second on the squad during the outdoor season.
Drosky also has the luxury of a large group of newcomers, several of whom will need to contribute immediately. Freshman Rob Kuhn (Delmar, N.Y.) could make the strongest impact, as he has clocked a 4:19 mile and enjoyed a good summer of training.
“I’m anxious to see how Rob fits into the fourth through sixth spots in our lineup,” Drosky said. The trio of Clark Rivers (Fayetteville, Ga.), Mark Luffel (Alpharetta, Ga.) and Michael Sinagra (McDonough, Ga.) should also add solid depth and compete for the No. 6-8 spots. Rivers was the Georgia state champion at 3200 meters.
This talented group of newcomers should mesh well with a solid group of veterans to provide an exciting 2002 season.