COLUMBUS, Ohio – Under the guidance of third-year head coach Dustin Iacovone, the Columbus State men's cross country team features an eight-man squad that includes three strong returners. Following a 9th-place national finish last season, the team looks to improve its position this year at the NJCAA DIII National Championships held in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
"This is a season of unknowns for the men's team," said Coach Iacovone. We have a lot of new faces on the team and I'm excited to see what they can do." No longer on the team are Thomas Shaw and Jesus Davis, whose times contributed to the team score throughout the season.
Cody Null (Dublin/Dublin Coffman high School) headlines the returners after a successful freshman campaign. Null finished 5th in the country, resulting in his NJCAA 1st-Team All-American selection. He also won the Region XII DIII Championship meet and was chosen as the Central Region Male Athlete of the Year. According to Coach Iacovone, "Cody is our number one runner. He's an All-American and should be much faster this season. He should has his sights set on finishing in the top 5 at nationals".
Adam Glass (Grove City/Grove City HS) had "has been running really well so far. He is a talented runner and should have a great season," said Iacovone. Glass was named a USTFCCCA Athlete of the Week last season.
Zach Leahy (Hilliard/Hilliard Bradley HS) "gained valuable experience at nationals last year and I believe he provides great leadership to the team," Iacovone said.
Five newcomers join the sophomores on the team. Coach Iacovone expressed a lot of enthusiasm about the freshmen. Aaron Kennelly (Circleville/Westfall HS) "has a ton of potential. He should be able to stay up near Adam." Laithe Abu-Obeid (Columbus/Franklin Heights HS) is "someone who I was very excited to get at the last minute. He's more of a short distance runner but I think he has the potential to be a great cross country runner." Romell Curry (Columbus/Horizon Science Academy) is "learning how to be a better runner. He was one of the best at his high school. He's a hard worker and has grown through the early season practices". Likewise to Romell, Garrett Lafferty (New Albany/New Albany HS) is "talented, a hard worker and has been huge improvements through the early season practices". Anthony Gripper (Columbus/Fort Hayes HS) is "a very consistent runner. He has a great work ethic and I think he will get better and better as the season goes on".
The Cougars will begin their season on Saturday, September 2 when they travel to Yellow Springs to compete at the Wittenberg University Invitational.