July 8, 2014
LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. - Siena Cross Country Head Coach John Kenworthy has announced the addition of eight newcomers to the Saints' 2014 roster. Seven true freshmen and sophomore newcomer Eric Brower will begin competition for the Saints this fall.
Brower will be joined on the men's squad by freshmen Chad Dashnaw, Nate Smith and Shaun VanBuskirk.
"With such veteran leadership on the men's team, our incoming freshmen have a great opportunity to get into the pack and learn both the ins and outs of college cross country while not having the pressure to contribute right away," noted Kenworthy, who enters his second year as head coach. "Nevertheless, they are certainly talented enough to compete in our scoring group right away and having them do so will be a great bonus for this year."
A native of Peru, N.Y., Dashnaw was a CVAC League All-Star last season after posting a personal best 5K time of 17:16 in finishing sixth overall at the NYPHSAA Section VII Championships. Dashnaw also captained his indoor and outdoor track team at Saranac Central and was a three-time State Meet qualifier, Scholar Athlete Award recipient and John J. Herbert All-Academic Team selection.
"I believe that Chad has a tremendous upside," said Kenworthy. "He comes from a smaller program than the rest of our class, but has some great experience in championship races. I expect to see him grow significantly with a change in environment and a jump in training."
Smith was an All-State, two-time All-Conference and three-time State Meet qualifier for Maine-Endwell High. Last season the Endwell, N.Y. native posted the second fastest 5K time in school history, running 16:17.9 in the New York Class B State Meet. Smith placed third (2012) and sixth (2013) at sectionals the past two years and finished second in track sectionals last season.
"Nate is the third runner from Maine-Endwell on our men's roster," commented Kenworthy. "Both of his former high school teammates - Bryant Hatala
and Nick Miller
- are valuable pieces to our team and Nate shows all the signs to follow in their steps. Much like his past and future teammates, he has significant experience with a successful cross country program and I expect he will bring a great attitude and dedication into the program."
VanBuskirk joins the Saints from Old Bridge, N.J. where he was a two-time captain and was named sophomore distance runner of the year at Old Bridge High. A two-time MVP, VanBuskirk was named both First Team All-Division and First Team All-Conference last fall. He tied the school record and placed seventh in the section with a 5K time of 16:19.0. Additionally, VanBuskirk was captain of both his indoor and spring track teams where he was a three-time MVP.
"I'm excited to see what Shaun can do over the 8K or 10K distance this fall," noted Kenworthy. "He seems to get better and better as the distance grows and I think he will take to the increased training and discipline of college cross country without a hiccup."
A local product out of Johnstown High in nearby Gloversville, N.Y., Brower was a 2012 Foothills Council All-Star Honorable Mention. He posted a personal best 5K time of 18:10.45 at the 2012 Burnt Hills Invite.
"Eric worked incredibly hard over the past year in order to meet our minimum walk-on time standards," said Kenworthy. "Through his freshman year he improved dramatically and I can see him being in our top-7 or even higher as he continues to grow as an athlete."
On the women's side, four runners join the Saints in freshmen Katie Aikens, Dominica Bleichert, Gina D'Angelo and Erin Morrell.
"Our incoming class for the women's side can absolutely transform that team," commented Kenworthy. "I expect the bulk of them to come in and compete for top-5 positions right away. These women are coming from successful programs. They know how to perform under pressure and contribute to championship caliber teams. Adding these young ladies alleviates some of our biggest weaknesses on the course from prior years and they are incredibly dedicated, committed teammates off the course as well. I'm really excited to have them in our group this fall."
Aikens was a four-time Midstate Athletic Conference All-Star while running for Delaware Academy in Bovina Center, N.Y. A two-time MAC Individual Champion, Aikens was a 2011 State qualifier and led her squad to four sectional team titles. She finished ninth overall in the 2012 NYSPHSAA Section IV Championships with a time of 22:01.60 in the 5K race.
"I think that Katie has some great potential that has yet to be uncovered," noted Kenworthy. "She is a hard worker from a very small program and is going to improve greatly over time with the resources and culture that our program can provide. Coming in, I expect her to improve dramatically. She has the tools to improve and become a contributor for us in the future."
A local runner out of Shenendehowa High in nearby Clifton Park, N.Y., Bleichert was a team captain and the most honored athlete for the 2013 cross country season for exemplifying heart, commitment, selflessness and dedication. She ran a personal best of 19:08.49 at the Saratoga State Park 5K course last fall. In track and field, Bleichert was the 2014 Middletown Invitational 2K Steeple Champion as a member of the Section II Champions Outdoor Track squad.
"Rob Cloutier does an amazing job with the cross country program at Shenendehowa and I'm excited to get one of his best athletes for the next four years of her career," said Kenworthy. "Dominica is a leader on and off the course and I have no doubts that she is prepared to make a big impact for Siena from her first day on campus all the way through her last season as a Saint."
D'Angelo was a team captain and three-time Federation Championships qualifier for the three-time NSCHSAA and CHSAA City Team Champions St. Anthony's High. A native of East Northport, N.Y., D'Angelo finished in the top-15 individually all four years in cross country and placed fourth in track at the 3K at the 2014 CHSAA City Championships. She posted a personal best 5K time of 19:31.2 as a sophomore at the Brown Invitational.
"Sometimes you meet a prospective student athlete and things just seem to click," commented Kenworthy. "The first time Gina and I spoke it seemed like Siena was a perfect fit and I'm so excited to finally have her back on campus and joining the rest of the women's team. Gina has a ton of big race experience and is ready to contribute to our front group right away."
Morrell helped guide Bishop Ludden High to the Triple Crown this year as the school captured sectional titles in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. A native of Camillus, N.Y., Morrell was a three-time State qualifier and placed sixth at sectionals in 2013. A recipient of the Sportsmanship Award and Senior Medallion, she was a multiple time First and Second Team All-League selection. Morrell achieved a personal best 5K time of 19:32.6 at last year's State Championships.
"Erin is a great addition to the team," noted Kenworthy. "I think she can come in and immediately fill some gaps in our scoring group. Cross country is obviously her strongest style of racing and I think she will do particularly well once she is able to focus on it year around."
The eight new Saints will begin collegiate competition when the program opens its 2014 season at the Hamilton Invitational on Sept. 6.