PHILADELPHIA – The Saint Joseph’s men’s cross country squad is set to race the 2019 Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championship this Saturday, November 2. Hosted by George Mason University at the Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, Va., the 8k race is set for 10:00 a.m. The Hawks, who finished fourth a year ago, were predicted to place third this fall according to the A-10’s preseason poll, with voting conducted by the league’s 14 head coaches back in late August.
"The group that we are putting together for this upcoming Saturday is ready to run," said 31st-year head coach Mike Glavin on Wednesday afternoon. "I'm expecting that we have enough experience in the front end of things with [Zach] Michon, [John] Walker, [Bobby] Hastie, and [Matt] Scarpill as juniors and seniors . . . They've been here before and they've done this before. Get ready, get loose, a gun goes off, and you have about 25 minutes to maximize output."
The Oatlands Plantation enters its second season as host site of the A-10 Cross Country Championship after serving as the 2017 course, when the Hawks took home the silver medal. The Hawks raced the course on September 13 of this season as part of the George Mason Invitational and won the team title, as senior captains Zach Michon (3rd) and John Walker (4th) and juniors Bobby Hastie (5th) and Matthew Scarpill (6th) dominated with a spread of just 9.10 seconds.
The 10 Hawks selected to represent SJU at the 2019 A-10 Cross Country Championship are that core four of Michon, Walker, Hastie, and Scarpill, fellow senior Colin Gallagher, sophomores Ben Bunch, Zach Smith, and George Steinhoff, and freshmen Matthew Coffey and Colin Kane. Michon (10th) and Hastie (18th) return as SJU's top two runners from last year's meet.
It comes as no surprise that the Hawks were predicted to finish as one of the top in the field, considering the immeasurable success they have built over the last decade; Saint Joseph’s has finished as one of the top-three teams in the Atlantic 10 seven times in the last 10 years, winning the title in 2009 and 2015, placing second in 2012, 2013, and 2017, and earning third in 2011 and 2014.
Two-time A-10 All-Conference cross country selection Michon has led the Hawks on the big stage all season and is coming off of a seventh-place finish in a field of 113 runners at the Penn State National Invitational 5.2-mile run on October 18. Prior to that race, Michon set the SJU course record at the Lehigh Paul Short Run, blazing the course with an 8k PR of 23:53.3. The senior placed 10th at last year's conference meet and 15th in as a sophomore in 2017.
"Zach has been racing as a guy who will certainly factor into the top five," added Glavin. "He should factor into the top three, and then once the game plays out that way, I'm willing to watch whatever happens and be excited about it."
Walker, Hastie, and Scarpill have been SJU's solid 2-3-4 runners this season to round out Glavin's core four. Gallagher will also race in his second A-10 meet while Bunch, Smith, Steinhoff, Coffey, and Kane will make their A-10 debuts.
The All-Conference team consists of the top 15 finishers, while the Most Outstanding Rookie Performer award is given to the highest-placing freshman.