The Youngstown State men's and women's cross country teams open the 2018 season on Saturday morning at the Duquesne Duals. Last season, the women's team finished seventh at the Horizon League Championships while the men's placed ninth. Saturday's race at Duquesne is set to start at 9 a.m. at the Schenley Park Oval.
After redshirting four members of the 2016 Horizon League Championship squad last season, the men's team returns fifth-year seniors Alan Burns, Dylan Dombi, James Nedrich and Ryan Sullivan. Senior Derek Morrison also returns.
Sullivan, who placed third at the 2016 Horizon League Championships, is a two-time All-Horizon League performer and ran a school-record 10K of 31:20.9 at the 2016 Great Lakes Regional to place 34th. He also placed third in the 2015 Horizon League Championship meet.
During the 2016 championship race, Burns finished 11th, Dombi was 14th, Nedrich placed 35th and Morrison finished 85th. Burns was named All-Horizon League Second-Team after finishing with a time of 26:19.5 and finished fifth at the Tommy Evans Invitational with a time of 20:24.91.
Newcomers to the program include Chris Butler (Boardman, Ohio), Matthew Mangus (Hillsboro, Ohio) and Ethan Sparks (Kinsman, Ohio). Sparks Was a three-time all-state selection in 2016, 2017, 2018 in track and helped Maplewood High School to cross country state titles in 2014 and 2015.
The women's program is undergoing a youth movement with 13 freshman and sophomores, one junior and just two seniors – Jennifer Muhlenkamp and Alison Green, who is in her first season running cross country. Green has been a member of the YSU track and field team and finished seventh in the 800-meter run in the 2017 outdoor championships
Sophomores Natalie Fleming and Ashleigh Rowley each competed in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and finished with times of 23:19.5 and 23:30.7, respectively. Rowley is the Penguins' top returner from the Horizon League Championships after posting a time of 23:27.6. The Penguins other top finishers in the league championship were Fleming with a 35th place finish in 23:49.9 and Muhlenkamp with a time of 24:09.3.
The Penguins will compete in the 50th Annual Tommy Evans Invitational, Saturday, Sept. 8, hosted by the University of Akron in Norton, Ohio.