Young Squad Builds for the Future

The 2004 season was not an easy one for the Oakland menís cross country team. The Golden Grizzlies found themselves short-handed the entire season and with only five runners available, coach Paul Riceís squad was forced to find a way to get through the year with no injuries or errors. Although Oakland placed no better than fourth in an event, staying healthy and remaining competitive with the bare minimum was an accomplishment in itself.

Senior Luke Williams was the top OU finisher in every race but one and was a second team All-Mid-Con performer.

Oakland saved its best showing for the end of the season at the Mid-Con Championship meet. The Golden Grizzlies placed four runners in the top 30, on their way to a fourth-place finish behind Southern Utah, IUPUI, and Western Illinois. Senior Luke Williams (Wayland, Mich.) led Oakland, finishing 11th with a time of 27:25. A trio of sophomores including sophomore Chris Fecek (Rochester Hills, Mich.) followed Williams. Fecek ran the 8K course in 28:56, crossing the line 24th, while sophomore Tim Copacia (Shelby Township, Mich.) came in 27th in 29:06 and sophomore Joe Zick (Durand, Mich.) covered the course in 29:12 placing 29th.

Williams, the only senior running for Oakland, used his experience to lead the young team all season. He led the Golden Grizzlies in every race except for the Detroit Titan Invitational. Williams was able get off to a fast start by placing second overall at the Golden Grizzly Open, setting a personal-best time of 21:10 in the 4-mile. He went on to take home a 10th place finish at the Michigan Intercollegiate, and later he placed 11th overall at the Mid-Con Championship to earn second team All-Mid-Con honors. The seniorís best time in an 8K race was at the Loyola Invitational where he finished in 26:05, earning him 76th out of 249 runners. Williams completed his career at Oakland in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional. He went out with a personal record in the 10K, timing in at 32:54 and finishing 107th.

In addition to Williams, Oakland got strong contributions from a group of young runners. Fecek led the team at the Detroit Titan Invitational with a time of 22:01, and finished second on four different occasions. Copacia was second on the team in two events this season; he also finished in the top 30 twice. Zick finished strong with his best outing in the final race of the season, running a 34:11 at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional. Freshman Tim Rowland (Oxford, Mich.) gained valuable experience by running in all seven events in his first year at Oakland. His best finish came at the Detroit Titan Invitational where he placed third on the team with a time of 24:01.

With the young athletes in place and the return of talented runners who were redshirted this season, the Golden Grizzlies appear to be prepared to return to championship form next fall.

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