ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y.- The St. Bonaventure University men's cross country team will have many young faces in 2016 – just one senior is on the 18-man roster as the fall season begins.
While the Bonnies will need to fill the shoes of one of the top runners in program history, Joe Ferencik who graduated last May, the team does return seven members from last year's squad.
"It is a very young team, mostly sophomores and freshmen, but everyone is working hard and has been showing growth," head coach Bob MacFarlane said.
Also back from last year's team are junior Matthew Bacher and Drew Bille who redshirted last season. A large group of newcomers also boost the roster – Devan Cavanaugh, Genaro Colon, William Delaney, Christian Gravius, Kyle Haller, Donavan Lowe, Karan Patel, Ryan Signorino, Mark Vaccaro and Dahron Wells all join the roster this fall.
Part of the reason for the large influx of new runners is the addition of St. Bonaventure's track program that will begin competition in the spring. Every member of the roster will practice for both cross country and track, adding to the competition level for spots in the top seven.
"Practices become competitive. What's happening is everyone is being pushed a lot more because there are more kids and everyone wants to be in that top seven," MacFarlane said. "The top 10 runners will go to A-10 Championships and that's the goal for all of the kids. Every one of them has a chance and they're all working toward that goal."
In all, there are 38 student-athletes – 16 of them newcomers – combined between the Bonnies men's and women's cross country teams.
"The teams work very well together and they're all working toward a common goal," MacFarlane emphasized.
This year's team hopes to continue a recent trend for Bonnies runners – falling times. Six of the Bonnies' top 10 individual 8K times all-time have come in the past three seasons.
The Bonnies open the season at the Little Three Invitational this Friday hosted by Canisius and will next run Sept. 17 at the Binghamton Invitational. The five-race "regular season" leads up into the Atlantic 10 Championships set for Oct. 29 in Richmond and the Northeast Regionals Nov. 11 in the Bronx.
Stay connected with St. Bonaventure athletics through social media. Follow the Bonnies on Twitter @Go_Bonnies and get cross country updates @BonniesXC. Keep up with the Bonnies on Facebook /GoBonnies and on Instagram @GoBonnies.