Men's Cross Country - Mon, Aug. 28, 2006
Rensselaer, Ind. - The Saint Xavier University men's cross country team traveled to Rensselaer, Indiana, to compete in the Puma Invitational Saturday and were definitely ready to compete following three weeks of training, both at home and in Galena, Ill. As the 10:30 a.m. meet neared, the skies darkened and a torrential downpour forced a two-and-a-half-hour delay in the start of the 6,000-meter race on the campus of St. Joseph's College (Ind.). During the long postponement, St. Joseph coach Bill Massoels asked Cougars head coach Ed McAllister how long his team was willing to wait out the rain delay. "Forever" was McAllister's reply. "We've been practicing long and hard for three weeks and these guys were more than ready to compete," said McAllister. "I was not going to bring them home disappointed."

Following the delay, a rainbow appeared in the sky and the Cougars received a "pot of gold" with a five-point victory over the host Pumas. The final team totals were Saint Xavier 30, St. Joseph's 35, and Robert Morris 59 (lowest score wins). SXU junior Steven Bugarin (Chicago, Ill./ Washington) won the race with an impressive time of 18:38. Following Bugarin was sophomore Ronald Lavaire (Shelbyville, Ill./Shelbyville) with a 19:05 clocking and second overall.

Rounding out the Saint Xavier top five finishers in order were: freshman Eli Hoffman (Mount Morris, Ill./Oregon) in sixth place at 19:44, sophomore Maciej Demaj (Lockport, Ill./Reavis) in 10th place at 19:59, followed by freshman John Neisler (Armington, Ill./Olympia) in 11th at 20:04. The Cougars also had freshman Emmanuel Gonzalez (Chicago, Ill./St. Laurence) finish in 14th place at 20:58 as well as freshman Matt Miller (Oak Lawn, Ill./Oak Lawn) in 15th at 21:16. The win marked the first time in its three-year history that SXU captured the Puma Invitational.

"Steven ran a solid, impressive race and appears to be in mid-season form," said McAllister. "Ronald's improvement is nothing short of amazing and the quick development of our freshmen, primarily Hoffman and Neisler, give hope that we will create a strong pack for some time to come. Demaj is just returning from a long battle with injury, so he will be improving on a regular basis and Gonzalez and Miller showed strength in that they solidly beat runners who had bested them in high school." The Cougars run close to home next Saturday as both the men's and women's cross country teams compete in the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) opener at Horseshoe Bend in Palos Heights, Ill. The women's race will start at 10 a.m., while the men's race begins at 10:30 a.m. This marks the first competition under new women's head coach Lisa Ebel. The impressive field consists of the host UIC Flames, plus Horizon Conference members Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Chicago State, plus new entry DePaul University.

Top 10 Puma Invitational Finishers1. Steven Bugarin, SXU, 18:38.2. Ronald Lavaire, SXU, 19:05.3. Eric Fleming, SJC, 19:10.4. Paul Zavala, RMC, 19:32.5. Matt Leonardo, SJC, 19:37.6. Eli Hoffman, SXU, 19:44.7. Andy VanDeHey, SJC, 19:45.8. Val Ploetz, SJC, 19:50.9. Bob Klosak, RMC, 19:53.10. Maciej Demaj, SXU, 19:59