The 2017 cross country season gets underway for the University of Cincinnati program this week with a pair of meets on the schedule for the Bearcats. First, the men will send a squad to Carmel, Ind., for the Butler Opener with their 6,000m run scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. Then, on Saturday morning, both UC teams will send runners to the starting line at Voice of America MetroPark in West Chester as the Bearcats will compete in the 36th Queen City Invitational. The men will lead things off with a 5,000m race at 9 a.m. with the women’s 5,000m race scheduled for 9:30 a.m.


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Hurricane Harvey has caused widespread flooding throughout the Houston area. The University of Cincinnati Department of Athletics stands with our longtime partners at the University of Houston and the City of Houston during these tough times. Those wishing to help with relief efforts in and around the Houston area are encouraged to donate through the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Cincinnati-based Matthew 25: Ministries. Please visit any of those organization’s web sites to see how you can assist.


The men’s portion of the Butler Opener will feature student-athletes from the following schools: Butler, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and IUPUI.


The 36th Queen City Invitational will feature student-athletes from the following schools: Cedarville, Cincinnati, Kentucky State, Northern Kentucky, Wright State and Xavier.


The Queen City Invitational is entering its 36th year in 2017 after first being contested in 1982 at the Winton Woods Golf Course. Cincinnati played host the event for many years before the three schools in the area – UC, Northern Kentucky and Xavier – came together to share hosting duties at the 2007 event. Since then, the trio has rotated host venues from Voice of America MetroPark, Kingswood Park and A.J. Jolly Park (Alexandria, Ky.).


The Bearcats have won 18 of the team titles with their last coming in 2015. UC put together a string of wins from 2001 through 2008, a stretch of eight years in a row matched only by the UC women (2004-10). Indianapolis and Miami (Ohio) are second in the team title ledger with three victories each. Individually, the Bearcats have won 18 race titles with Eric Finan’s back-to-back crowns as the 2010 and 2011 meets standing as the last time a UC runner won the men’s title. Morehead State is second on the list with three while both NKU and Xavier are third with two titles.


Similar to the men, the women also have won the most team titles in the history of the meet having captured 10 crowns with EKU second at seven and Xavier third with five. The last time UC won the women’s title was in 2010, the eighth year in a row UC had claimed victory. Individually, the Bearcats have claimed 10 individual titles with Michelle McKenny’s win in 2010 the last for UC’s women. Eastern Kentucky is second on the individual crown list with five while six other schools have won two races each.


Overall, the Bearcats have combined to win 28 team crowns and swept the men’s and women’s titles in the same season seven times. Individually, the Bearcats also have won 28 titles with EKU and Morehead State tying for second with five race wins each.


Looking back at last year’s American Athletic Conference Championships, three Bearcats placed in the Top 15 of their respective races and were named to the all-conference team. Of those three individuals, only senior Dan Huben returns in 2017 after placing 13th last year.


The Bearcats also have lost two of their all-conference honorees from last year as both Juliana Madzia and Toby Loveridge earned their degrees during the 2016-17 academic year.


The men finished just outside of the trophy places at the conference meeting, finishing third overall at the meet held in Cincinnati. Both Toby Loveridge (7th) and Dan Huben (13th) earned all-conference honors with their finishes. The men also improved in the regional standings as they placed 17th overall with Huben leading the way in 58th, a huge improvement from the 2015 meet.


The women had a great year as they placed sixth at the American Athletic Conference Championships, the best finish for the UC women since a sixth-place showing at the 2006 Conference USA event. Juliana Madzia was the top finisher for the women in five races and earned all-conference by finishing 13th at the AAC meet.


The Bearcats will have seven new runners on the roster this year, including four men and three women. For the ladies, the newcomers include Sydney Hess (Curtice, Ohio), Sam Mikula (Columbus) and Katrina Patterson (Clarence, N.Y.). On the men’s side, the newcomers include true freshmen Ryan Guenthner (Louisville) and Matt Stump (Medina, Ohio), junior Steven Zombory (Chardon) and senior Branden Nosker (Troy, Ohio). Zombory was a member of the UC Running Club the past two years while Nosker raced for Mississippi State.


While the men will take one week off from competition following two meets in as many days this week, the women will send a squad to Terre Haute, Ind., for the John McNichols Invitational hosted by Indiana State on Saturday, September 8. The LaVerne Gibson Championship Course, which has hosted several NCAA Championship events in past years, will be the course used for this race and also for the NCAA Great Lakes Region Championships in early November.