PHILADELPHIA – “What do you see? What could you see? What do you want to see?”
Within the rigorous training plans and mileage expectations, head coach Mike Glavin, now in his 29th year at the helm of the Saint Joseph’s men’s cross country program, asks his runners to take a look in the mirror and answer those three questions.
“This sport is not a game,” said Glavin. “This is not a court and field sport where someone picks up for you. That’s not how it works here. Our greatest team is when we have all of our greatest individuals performing their best, individually. My job is to make sure that they are aware of what is happening and could happen and for them to decide what value it has.”
What could happen? If the last eight years are telling, a top-three finish at the Atlantic 10 Championship on October 28. The Hawks have finished as one of the A-10’s top-three teams six times in the last eight years, which includes a pair of first-place finishes (2009, 2015), a pair of second-place finishes (2012, 2013), and a pair of third-place finishes (2011, 2014).
After finishing fifth last fall and being predicted to repeat in the fifth spot again this year, Glavin feels he has the pieces to make a strong run at the conference meet. It will depend, however, on if these pieces sync up. Not in terms of talent, but in terms of health, and timing.
Of his immediate core five that could make all the difference for the Crimson and Gray, Glavin refers to graduate student captain Dan Savage, senior captain David Dorsey, junior Shawn Hutchison, and sophomores Josh Clark and Zach Michon.
After missing 2014 due to injury, Savage turned in an outstanding comeback season last fall, where he led the Hawks at both the A-10 Championship (17th) and NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship (26th). Savage also scored at 2015 A-10s to help SJU to the team title and has been a consistent factor in SJU’s A-10 group over his career.
Injury has hampered his successes, but this season could be different.
“Dan is phenomenally dedicated,” said Glavin. “You have these dreams, that this is what should happen for this kid. Dan is where he needs to be at all times in his own health. He takes that extra time because he is proactive, not reactive, and that’s huge. He is earning that ‘good will feeling’ I have for him. It has to be a sense of desire; I call it ‘unfinished business.’ There has to be stuff that he thinks he can do, where he doesn’t want to end his career without taking his legitimate shot.”
Dorsey earned the squad’s Most Valuable Performer award last year after leading the Hawks in three pre-championship races and scoring for the Hawks in all three championship races. Dorsey ran 24:33.2 for 8k last fall and was SJU’s #2 finisher at both the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship and IC4A Championship.
“David has been extremely consistent and, if he runs like he did in his first three meets last season, could be a top-15 finisher in the conference,” said Glavin. “He runs above himself.”
Hutchison, who raced the 2014 Footlocker National Championship as a senior at Bishop Eustace Prep, has the potential to make his mark this fall. He made the A-10 Championship 10 group in both of his first two years on Hawk Hill and, in addition to a stronger understanding of SJU’s training, has two key components that could carry him this fall.
“He has a better focus, and he is aerobically just so strong,” said Glavin. “This could be his year.”
The highest freshman finisher at the 2016 A-10 Championship, Clark returns for his sophomore campaign this fall. Glavin believes that a year’s worth of experience will be advantageous for the sophomore, who has the physical ability to leave his mark on the conference scene that last weekend in October.
“Josh was getting used to the training last year,” said Glavin. “The nice part for us is that Josh has the ability. Last year, he was tired with the mileage pattern. He went to the conference meet tired. What happens when Josh, as he is now, is not tired this year? He is handling the training, and the talent is certainly there.”
Due to an early injury that somewhat hampered his rookie cross country season, Michon’s accomplishments won’t match the aforementioned Hawks’ accomplishments . . . on the trails. But Glavin saw more than enough of the sophomore on the track, where he was an indoor and outdoor IC4A qualifier and scored in the A-10 indoor mile despite running that race alone.
He came along after cross country last year, but this year isn’t last year.
“He’s being a sum of all of his parts and successes,” said Glavin. “He’s better than the kid we saw last fall and proved that he is good enough to be one of the top eight indoor milers in the conference. It is still to be seen how that will translate over into this fall, but I know that the talent is there.
“That’s a whole team,” added Glavin. “Those are five guys in Dan, David, Shawn, Josh, and Zach where talent has already been proven before they got here. More importantly, those are five people who are interested and competitive about their own future in the sport.”
That core includes five runners of, as Glavin explains, “asterisks.” Meaning, the potential and talent is there, but not the consistency and expectation.
That’s where the trio of senior captain Collin Crilly, junior Justin Branco, and junior Sean Macpherson come in. Strong, progressive runners, each Hawk has developed and improved on a consistent basis over his two to three years on Hawk Hill.
“We’d like to have all five ‘asterisks’ show up at the conference meet,” said Glavin. “If you get them all to show up, that’s magic. And when you’ve got guys on your progression like Collin, Justin, and Sean, they’re going to make their own way into my top five, even when those ‘asterisks’ are running on all cylinders. I have eight guys competing for five spots. As a coach, that’s a nice spot. That’s a good problem to have.”
An even better problem for Saint Joseph’s is that Glavin’s depth doesn’t stop at eight Hawks.
In the next round are nine runners, seven with at least two years of experience, that will make the squad better in seniors Dave Garton and Anthony Morelli, both IC4A qualifiers on the track last year, juniors Jack Daly, Tommy Higley, Matthew Mullin-Garcia, John Podles, and Will Sponaugle, and sophomores Colin Gallagher and John Walker.
“I’m naming people who are legitimate, and I believe we’re going to be that deep,” said Glavin. “Those 17 names aren’t new to this. They’ve all either met expectations or have progressed and produced in track and field where I can look at them and believe that they’re going to be factors on a good, solid cross country team at the Atlantic 10 level.”
17 Hawks. Without a single mention of freshmen.
“We have a couple of talented freshmen that have come in with some credentials, but because of our depth, the freshman get to train, adapt, adjust, and progress without pressure,” said Glavin. “If something comes out of that, good. But the expectation is that they will train, learn, and race as well as they can under their individual circumstances, without pressure.”
Eight freshmen in Drayk Cassamajor, Brendan Falzone, Bobby Hastie, Jimmy Macpherson, Dan Mink, Brendan Price, Matthew Scarpill, and George Steinhoff will don the Crimson and Gray this fall while seniors Kevin Dorsey, Jake Durante-Koller, and Andrew Myers, juniors Eddie Leonard, and Sean Princivalle, and sophomores Antonio Amaral, Joey Angelina, Riley Hannan, Harrison Morris, Colin Parker, and Christian Roberts will round out SJU’s returners.
With 28 returning letterwinners and eight newcomers, Saint Joseph’s will first open the 2017 season at The College of New Jersey’s Blue/Gold Invitational this Saturday, September 2. The Hawks will race against host-school TCNJ, Rider, and Penn at Rosedale Park in Hopewell, New Jersey, beginning at 9:45 a.m.
Receive all of the latest news and info on SJU men's cross country with Hawk E-News – SIGN UP