Louisville, Ky. - The 2005 Saint Xavier University men's cross country season ended on a bittersweet note with a 28th place finish at the NAIA National Championship cross country meet on November 19.
"I don't feel that we ran our best race," stated Coach Ed McAllister. "I think that many factors affected us ... inexperience at that level and just the awe of being at Nationals probably took its toll."
The Cougars were unquestionably the youngest team at the meet, fielding one sophomore and four freshmen. This bodes very positively for the program's future.
"Cross country is one of those sports that really involves maturity in order to reach true success," said McAllister. "Our freshmen know now what it will take to get to the next level. Every season is a new cycle, however this team should improve for years to come."
Sophomore Steven Bugarin (Chicago, Ill./Washington) unquestionably led the team throughout the vast majority of the season, being the top Cougar in all but one competition. Freshmen Arturs Bareikis (Oak Forest, Ill./Tinley Park) and Maciej Demaj (Burbank, Ill./Reavis) alternated as second runners. Another encouraging aspect of this twosome is that as the season wore on they consistently continued to close the gap from themselves to Bugarin.
Freshman Ronald Lavaire (Shelbyville, Ill./Shelbyville) held the next position. By the conclusion of the season, Lavaire was leading the team during the early portions of each race. McAllister sees him as a surprising potential on the horizon. Next was freshman Alex Walker (Lake-in-the-Hills, Ill./Huntley). Slowed by early season injuries, Walker emerged as a consistent runner during the critical later part of the season.
Asked to assess his team's overall performance during the 2005 season, McAllister remarked, "Last year, we came close to the season's goals. This season, we achieved our pre-season intentions. We constantly set higher levels of success as our intentions, with this group, I see them overachieving once again."
Some of the achievements accomplished by this season's Cougar squad included: NAIA Region VII Champions, CCAC Conference Champions, three members (Bugarin, Demaj, and Bareikis) on the All-Region team, four members (Bugarin, Demaj, Bareikis and Lavaire) garnered All-Conference status, CCAC Freshman of the Year (Demaj) and Region VII Coach of the Year (McAllister).
Concluded McAllister, "The journey was worth the effort."View results from the 50th Annual NAIA Cross Country Championships.Read the thoughts of SXU head men's cross country Ed McAllister following the Cougars' inspirational run at a NAIA Region VII Championship and an automatic bid to the NAIA Championships on Saturday, November 19, in Louisville, KY.