Men's Cross Country Ready to Hit Ground Running in 2017

Men's Cross Country Ready to Hit Ground Running in 2017

CASTLETON, Vt. – Coming off a strong season that featured its highest finish in the North Atlantic Conference Championship since 2013, the Castleton men's cross country team is ready to open its season Saturday at the Southern Vermont Invitational.

Castleton returns senior Grandon Smith, who is coming off 2016 NAC Runner of the Year honors after taking first overall and leading his team to a third-place finish in the conference championship. Smith did not stop there, as he also took the top spot in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championship and finished 32nd at the NCAA Regionals. Overall last season, Smith earned medalist honors at three different races on his way to All-NAC and All-ECAC honors.

Junior Tom Rizza also returns to the team in 2017 after competing in four races last season. Rizza recorded his best time at the Western New England University Invitational, crossing the line of the eight-kilometer race in 38:17. Jared Wheeler joins Smith and Rizza as another returner looking to build off a strong freshman season with the Spartans. Wheeler raced in eight events last season and recorded a personal-best time of 28:56.9 at the eight-kilometer UMass-Dartmouth Invitational.

Freshmen Carter Kline, Gannon McKearin, and Oliver Rodgers join the squad this season and will look to make a quick impact on the course. Castleton took second place overall in its first two meets last season, including the Castleton Invitational, which is slated for Saturday, Sept. 9. The NAC Championship is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 28, at UMaine-Farmington.