The additions of the cross country and men’s lacrosse teams to Eastern’s PAC competition next year are the buzz of the athletic department.
Until now, cross country has been running on its own. The team is excited to be gaining a coach and joining the PAC.
The men’s lacrosse team has been participating in the NCLL for the past two years since they were cut from Eastern’s budget. There were a number of reasons for the cut, the first being the lack of interest; there weren’t enough players coming out. The cost of maintaining a men’s lacrosse team also contributed. Without any recruits, there was no extra money coming in to cover the expenses.
When asked how excited he is about these positive changes, athletic director Harry Gutelius said, “In a word, very!”
According to Gutelius, there were two keys to the process of welcoming men’s lacrosse back. The first is the new turf field.
Certain sports are harder on grass than others, especially lacrosse with sticks scraping the ground for ground ball pickups and pseudo-wrestling matches during the men’s draw control. The lacrosse team will be able to put all the wear and tear that they want to on the turf field with very little damage compared to the grass field, according to Gutelius.
The current players are eager to step foot on the new turf next spring and be able to compete against other local schools on their own campus.Junior Ryan Hamidi is excited for his senior season.
“The transition of dropping down [to the NCLL] was really rough but returning to the PAC is something we all look forward to. We give the credit to Levis [the team’s head coach] because without him, we couldn’t have done any of it.” Hamidi said.
Hamidi and Gutelius agree that the second key to the success of this program is coach Jon Levis.
“[Levis] is an excellent guy and a great coach,” Gutelius said.
The fact that he is an admissions counselor, as well, puts him in a great position to be able to recruit.
There are about 10 to 15 players coming in next year. Using athletics is a great way for Eastern to bring more males to the campus, which increases funds. This, in turn, makes it possible for these teams to afford expensive equipment, maintenance of fields, coaches salaries and much more, according to Levis. Gutelius added that cross country is much less expensive than lacrosse which was a main factor in determining if it was possible to add to the athletic program, as well.
Cross country’s new coach is Eric Mundy, who is currently a track coach at the grade school where he teaches. Mundy has been running since he was six years old and ran cross country in high school and college at DeSales University. He is also currently training for an Iron Man Triathlon.
Sophomore Greg Mercier, a current member of Eastern’s unofficial team, is planning on running cross country next year.
“I will be joining the cross country team because it would enable me to face myself. For example, I would race against the time I had in my last meet. This kind of competition is what I like most about cross country,” Mercier said.
Mercier is excited about his team being able to compete in the PAC and added, “Cross country becoming a team next year is the icing on the cake.”
Mundy anticipates some very strong runners for Eastern next year and expects to give the other schools a run for their money. He added that the men’s and women’s teams will meet together but will have their own separate structured workouts.
The cross country team will not be hosting meets at Eastern, however. According to Gutelius, any home meets will be run at Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia.
The roster for next year is currently incomplete.
“People of all abilities are welcome,” Mundy said.
He would like participants that just enjoy running and want to come out to compete.
Gutelius is happy about the additions to Eastern’s athletics department.
“We would like to have the most complete athletic program for our student body,” he said.