March 15, 2007
PHILADELPHIA - The 2006-07 men's track and field campaign looks to be one of rebuilding for coach Mike Glavin and the Saint Joseph's Hawks. The graduation of the class of 2006 resulted in the departure of a number of key cogs in the SJU lineup, and the losses of standouts Joe Mohn, Matt Petrocci, and Andrew Thomas will not be easy to recover from. However, some outstanding performers will return to Hawk Hill this season in an effort to keep the Hawks in the upper echelon of the Atlantic 10.
The Hawks will rely on the experience and leadership of their senior captains, Mike Tatara and Joe Witiw, as they look to contend for a spot at the top of the Atlantic 10. Both captains exemplify the spirit of "team players," as both contribute heavily to the sprint relay squads. Witiw also placed third in the 500m at last season's A-10 Outdoor Championships. He will also be a contributor in the jumps, while classmate Matthew McClure will handle the throws. Fellow senior Chris Kessler will join the captains on the sprinting squad, and is also expected to be a part of the Hawk relays as well.
Joining the senior sprinters will be juniors Quenton Boyer, Bobby Staten, and Matt Weaver. Boyer has turned in some of the team's fastest indoor sprint times in his first two seasons, while Weaver was named to the All-Atlantic 10 Second Team in the 4x400 relay at the 2006 indoor championships. Staten will likely be the team's top sprinter, as he recorded team-best times in most of the indoor sprinting events as well as the 100m and 200m outdoor races. He was also part of the outdoor conference-champion 4x400 relay team, and was poised to challenge for top honors in the 100m before being sidelined by a hamstring injury. Rounding out the sprinting squad are newcomers Drew Brandt, Christopher Caranante, Brian Doherty, Tom Gonzalez, and Steven Philbrook.
In the middle distance events, the Hawks will rely on the experience of senior Brian O'Neill and junior Rich Ryan. O'Neill has lent his talents to the cross country squad as well, and looks to follow up on a junior season in which he improved a number of his personal bests. Ryan will be the team's primary entrant in the steeplechase after showing great promise last season; he was able to qualify for the IC4A Championships in just his first season competing in the event. For his efforts, Ryan was named the team's Most Improved Player. O'Neill and Ryan will be joined by three of their cross country teammates, sophomores Michael Howanski and Brendan Kearney, and freshman Jonathan Sclafani. Howanski and Kearney both showed great potential last season, with Kearney placing third at the A-10 Outdoor Championships in the 800m. The distance contingent of the Hawk lineup should be incredibly strong throughout the 2006-07 campaign. Led by senior cross country captains Shawn Duffy and Teddy Meyers, as well as graduate student Mike DiDio, the Hawks will look to score big in the long distance races. Duffy will be the team's go-to runner in the 10,000m races, where he placed 11th at the A-10's 2006 outdoor championships. Meyers will look to defend his indoor and outdoor 5,000m A-10 crowns and repeat his feat of qualifying for both the IC4A Championships and the NCAA Regionals. DiDio returns for his final season of eligibility to defend his 1,500m conference crown. He also earned Most Outstanding Performer honors at the outdoor championships; this season, he will try to be the first runner in A-10 history to accomplish that feat twice. Junior Will Rowland, a 2005 All-Conference performer in cross country, will look to repeat as an IC4A qualifier in the 5,000m indoor event and carry some momentum into the outdoor season. The veterans will be joined by a handful of young harriers, including sophomores Justin Heinze and Stephen Young. Heinze will focus on the 3,000m and 5,000m races, while Young will look to inherit the mantle of 1,500m standout from DiDio. Transfer students Peter Dittmar and Kyle Murray will contribute to the long distance squad, as will freshmen James Jennings, Chris Savino, and George Wittman.
The Saint Joseph's men's track team lost a great deal of scoring in the offseason, but Glavin and his remaining charges are primed to make a run at the top flight of the Atlantic 10. Despite the departures of a handful of crucial components from last year's squad, the 2006-07 Hawks still have a solid, reliable core of veteran leadership to go with their youth and potential. The question that remains to be answered is whether or not the young Hawks will respond to this leadership and elevate their own performance to the next level. The Hawks are looking forward to finding the answer.