Men’s Cross Country: Emergency Room visit hurts morale

By Torie Wytiaz

The Pitt men’s cross country team should have been resting in its hotel before the NCAA… The Pitt men’s cross country team should have been resting in its hotel before the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Championship, but the tension of an emergency room setting replaced any calm mental preparation.

Sophomore Greg Kareis, after experiencing severe head pain, was taken to the emergency room at a Maryland hospital Friday evening and was not discharged until 1 a.m.

A doctor’s recommendation kept Kareis from Saturday’s regional meet, and his absence proved detrimental to the team’s morale.

“The team was definitely affected by Greg’s illness,” Pitt head coach Alonzo Webb said. “All of our guys were worried about him, and even that little bit of psychological impact can affect performance.”

Pitt finished 14th out of the 28 competing teams and, despite the emotional circumstances, Webb said he felt this performance characterized a somewhat disappointing season.

“This team had the potential to achieve more, but we just did not run well when we needed to,” he said. “We had certain guys step up at different meets, and if we could just combine those efforts, the season would have been more successful.”

In comparing the results of the season to expectations, Webb indicated a weakness in the team’s preparation and training.

“The weather conditions for many meets were certainly not ideal,” he said. “Of course, everyone faced the same elements, but our guys were not accustomed to training in adverse conditions.”

No Pitt runners earned spots in the NCAA National Championship, but juniors Teddy Miller and Joshua Christopher led the team by placing 49th and 59th, respectively.

“Teddy and Christopher have been top performers this year,” Webb said, “and we look forward to their return as seniors next season.”

Webb also said next year’s team will consist of many returning contributors, including two freshmen who competed at the regional level this year.

Chase Broussard and Vinnie DePalma gained valuable experience, and Webb said their improvement throughout the season impressed him.

“Chase and Vinnie really stepped up in the final stretch of the season,” he said. “We expect to have a stronger and more experienced veteran team returning in 2010.”

The Pitt cross country team has one more event scheduled for Saturday in New York. The Eastern College Athletic Conference will host its annual meet, at which Pitt placed second last year.