In the final tune-up before the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship meet, some of the men’s younger runners promptly proved their worth.
Sophomores Owen Glatts, Ryan Debarberie and Will Maltin all followed the Owls’ senior leader Will Kellar to solid finishes at a particularly chilly and damp Leopard Invitational at Lafayette College Saturday.
Kellar felt his individual race could have been better, but still checked in at fifth overall with a 25 minute, 45.38 second mark.
“I went into the meet feeling like [crap],” Kellar said. “I was beat up the prior week in workouts and I was just feeling dead with heavy legs and not feeling too confident about the race. I wasn’t disappointed at all [with how I ran], but I wasn’t thrilled. It was an average to good performance…and it was a good indicator of where I’m at.”
Glatts (56th), Debarberie (65th) and Maltin (72nd) came in as the next three Temple runners to finish with times of 27:30.87, 27:46.03 and 27:50.62, respectively.
The sophomore trio chipped in key points to complement Kellar’s Top 5 finish in the Owls’ seventh place finish among the 12 competing teams. This race came two weeks after the men struggled to a 26th place overall finish at Lehigh University’s Paul Short Invitational Oct. 5.
“It’s a much different feel when there’s 150 people racing around you than when there’s 350 like at Paul Short,” coach James Snyder said. “Our kids did a much better job just executing the plan that we had. I still think there’s room to grow, but the progress has been made from two weeks ago to now. We believe we can make even more progress going into the conference meet.”
The men’s younger runners couldn’t have shown up at a better time in mid-October, especially with the conference meet looming in two weeks on Nov. 2. They also made up key ground for one of their marquee runners in redshirt-sophomore Alex Izewski who, per distance coach James Snyder, aggravated an ongoing lower back injury and struggled to a 28:01.37 mark.
“Alex had a back issue,” Snyder said. “He’s been dealing with some low back pain and it locked up on him early in the race and that happens to him especially when it’s cold outside. His fitness is certainly a world beyond what he ran, but he just was hurt all the way through it. He’s in much better shape than this race would indicate.”
“We’re still looking for Alex to be up there with [Kellar],” Snyder added.
Glatts bested his Paul Short Invitational mark of 28:00 by about 30 seconds and crossed as the team’s second runner. Debarberie, who placed fifth on the team with a 28:40 mark at Lehigh two weeks ago, ran nearly a minute faster and followed up Glatts as the Owls’ third finisher on a Lafayette course that the Lansdale, Pa., native said was tougher than the Leopard Invitational course last year as well as Lehigh.
“That course was easier last year and I only ran five seconds faster [last year],” Debarberie said. “Last year we ran around a soccer field twice and this year we had to ran up two hills instead.”
“I started out the first mile coming out pretty fast,” Debarberie added. “I was up front with [Kellar and Izewski] and I felt good at that point. Midway through the race I dropped back a little bit, but felt good and felt that I was running a fast time. Running with Glatts and Maltin, we ended up picking off some people at the end.”
The improved men’s showing reflected its progression through the past two weeks, but Snyder said there is still room to grow.
“[Glatts] and [Debarbarie] were our No. 2 and No. 3 men today and two weeks ago they were No. 4 and No. 5,” Snyder said. “I was pleased with the opportunity they had, but there’s still room to grow and improve. It’s a step in the right direction, but we need another three or four steps to get to where we need to be.”
With the final pre-conference meet test now behind them, Snyder said he’s excited to see what his young men’s squad could accomplish when they run up against The American exclusive competition at the University of Connecticut hosted meet.
“We still know we’re very young and we still have to prove [ourselves],” Snyder said. “We’re starting to get some answers to some of those questions, but it’s always fun to see who steps up on the big stage. There are guys who are gamers and guys that aren’t.
“We could all be fit and fast and everybody can run well, but who runs well on the day of biggest stage separates themselves from average Joes to champions,” Snyder added. “I’m curious to see from our kids who will take the challenge, step up and take advantage of the opportunity on the big stage.”
Andrew Parent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @daParent93.