Three-peat! Men’s XC claims SSC team and individual crowns

Three-peat! Men’s XC claims SSC team and individual crowns

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Saint Leo men's cross country placed all five of its scoring runners among the top 15 and won its third consecutive Sunshine State Conference Men's Cross Country Championship, at Saturday morning's SSC championship meet at Wickham Park.

Saint Leo finished with 30 points, while archrival Florida Southern placed second with 41 points. Nova Southeastern was third with 64 points, followed by Florida Tech (100 pts.), Tampa (112 pts.), and Rollins (190 pts.).

Freshman Ronald Cheserek won the SSC individual crown for the Lions, crossing the finish line in an SSC Championship record time of 24:24.79. He bested the previous championship record of 24:26.43, set in 2010 by Florida Southern's Ben Martucci, by just under two seconds.

Cheserek's victory also marks the fourth straight year that a Saint Leo runner has won the SSC individual crown, following in the footsteps of Carl Dunne (2013), Niclas Bez (2014), and Valentin Lenz (2015).

Senior Rafal Matuszczak crossed the line third overall with a time of 24:55.31, with junior Anthony Deleva right behind in fourth place with a time of 24:59.96 and senior Niclas Bez breaking the line in seventh place with a mark of 25:11.59.

Junior Joe Fuller rounded out the Saint Leo scorers in 15th place with a time 26:07.24 – roughly 11 seconds and five places ahead of Florida Southern's fifth scoring runner.

Chris Cabret (30th overall/29th in points, 26:41.07) and Adam Urbaniak (31st overall/30th in points, 26:51.32) were the pushers for the Lions.

Florida Southern runner Bobby Ormsby bolted from the pack right out of the start, and had a nearly 100-yard lead over Cheserek by the time both runners had finished their first loop of the flat-as-the-floor Wickham Park course at the 8:30 mark of the race.

But as the runners completed their second loop, Cheserek had reeled Ormsby back in. He eventually passed the Moc runner at approximately the 16:00 mark, with a pack of Saint Leo runners following close behind.

 "This was a great day for our men," said Kent Reiber, Saint Leo's head men's cross country coach.

"They executed our race strategy perfectly. To go out in this conference and win the title for the third consecutive year is tough, but that's just who we are. When everyone counted us out we stepped up and showed them why we were the defending champions," added Reiber.

Also gaining championship race experience for Saint Leo was Ilio Sanchez, who was 43rd with a time of 28:42.63; and David Gardner, who crossed 50th in 30:28.58.

The Saint Leo men's cross country team now advances to the NCAA South Region Cross Country Championship, which will be hosted by Saint Leo University at The Abbey Golf Course on Saturday, Nov. 5.

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