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Duquesne’s Lear optimistic about upcoming cross country season

Senior Elizabeth Morris is expected to be a key contributor to the Duquesne women’s cross country team. Photo credit: Dave DeNoma/Duquesne Athletics

Pittsburgh, PA — As the Duquesne men’s and women’s cross country teams take to the starting line at Saturday’s Duquesne Duals, coach Jim Lear has an optimistic outlook on the squad’s respective season.

This season, the women’s team was predicted to finish fourth and the men third in the Atlantic 10 Cross Country Preseason polls.

“With the women’s team, it would be nice to be in top three,” Lear said. “Richmond and Dayton are very good, tough to deal with. Davidson is tough, it is a fight to get in the top three spots.”

Lear believes the women have a clear top runner in senior Elizabeth Morris and that there will be plenty of competition for spots behind her, repeatedly praising his team’s depth.

“It should be very interesting this year,” said Lear. “The women we lost all of our big stars, Autumn Greba, Jenny DelSignore, Val Palermo. I think we will be very solid. Lizzie Morris gives us a good number one. We have 5-6 kids fighting for that second spot. Hopefully we do have five or six healthy for two, that would put us in great shape.”

Something which certainly encourages Lear is his feeling that the women’s team had a strong summer and may very well have breakout years. He cited Jen Gerland, Meg Aller, Morgan Perkins, Ava Pietrzyk, Tori Kocsis and Tessa Franchi as all having the potential to accomplish this goal.

As far as the men’s team is concerned, there is a very clear motivation among the team.

“They weren’t happy at all with fourth place last year considering we had so much back,” Lear said. “Collectively, they have a big chip on their shoulder.”

The men’s team loses Rico Galassi, but otherwise return the remainder of its top seven runners and Chris Kazanjian will be returning from an injury which hampered him for much of last season.

In some order, Kazanjian and fellow senior Cordon Luoco will be the top two runners on the team. Senior Hunter Wharrey and junior Zack Weland are among those being strongly considered for spots 3-7.

“With everyone being back and Chris being fifth two years ago in cross country we hope to get back into that top one or two,” said Lear. “These guys were talking about winning, and that’s a great idea.”

Gormley appointed by NCAA

Duquesne President Ken Gormley has officially been appointed to a three-year term on the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, effective immediately according to a university press release.

“I am honored to serve in this important role and grateful for the opportunity,” Gormley said. “I look forward to serving as an advocate for the NCAA’s commitment to inclusion and diversity in intercollegiate athletics.”

There are 18 members in the committee which includes a president or chancellor from each division in the NCAA and Gormely is one of six from Division I.

“We are honored President Gormley is serving on this committee,” Duquesne Director of Athletics David Harper said. “It is vital that Duquesne be a vibrant and active member institution within the NCAA.”

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