The University of Scranton men's cross country team placed four runners in the top 20 at last year's Landmark Conference championships. Three of those performers return this fall, giving the Royals valuable experience as the season opener approaches on Friday.
Scranton was chosen fifth in the preseason poll of the Landmark Conference coaches, according to a release from the conference office on Tuesday. The Royals received 26 points while defending champions Elizabethtown was chosen as the favorite with 68 points and six first-place votes. Juniata and Moravian were tied for second with 52 points each, with Juniata earning the final two first-place votes. Susquehanna (29 points) was fourth, followed by Scranton, Catholic (23), Drew (12) and Goucher (10).
The Royals finished fourth at least year's conference championship meet. Junior Eric Bartlett (Sayville, N.Y./Sayville) led the team by finishing ninth to earn second-team all-conference honors. Junior Zachary Gutenkunst (Ambler, Pa./Hatboro-Horsham) was 15th and sophomore Jack Patwell (East Greenbush, N.Y./Columbia) placed 17th to earn conference Rookie of the Year honors.
Six other runners return who competed in last year's conference championships for head coach Bill Burke, who enters his 14th season as the head coach of the men's cross country team. The Royals will open their season on Friday, Aug. 31, at the Misericordia Invitational at 6 p.m. at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa.
To see the complete Landmark Conference men's cross country preseason poll, visit http://www.landmarkconference.org.