Francis first in Fredonia meet by wide margin

Special to The OBSERVER

Fredonia runners were first in their respective races Saturday during the season-opening Fredonia Invitational on the campus course.

Hannah Kurbs won the women’s race and Ethan Francis (Dunkirk) the men’s race on the same course where the SUNYAC championships will be contested in late October.

The winning margin by Francis, also a senior, was 26.3 seconds in the men’s 6,000 meters. He crossed the line in 19:47.0, while Cortland’s Cabel McCandless was second in 20:13.3.

For Francis, it was also his first collegiate win – an improvement by three spots over last year’s home Invitational. He was also third at the 2015 meet and finished last season by finishing 30th at the NCAA Atlantic Regional.

“Ethan ran really well today,” Fredonia head coach Tom Wilson said. “It’s a step in the right direction. He’s got a really good shot to be SUNYAC individual champion in October. We have the advantage of having the course right in our backyard. I was very impressed with his poise, especially late in the race, because it was warm. Actually, both of them (including women’s winner Hannah Kurbs). It’s pretty hard to lead a race from start to finish.”

“I was super happy to be able to start my senior year off with a win at home, especially because SUNYACs is also gonna be at home for the first time in years,” Francis said. “I’m proud of Hannah for winning alongside me, it was a good show of Fredonia cross country to win the men and women’s individual titles at home.”

Cortland won the team portion with 35 points, Oswego was second with 44, Brockport third with 68, and the Blue Devils fourth with 76.

Fredonia’s scoring five, after Francis, were sophomore Ryan Dunning in 12th, freshman Seth Fonda in 18th, sophomore Matthew Erman in 23rd, and sophomore Noah Watkins in 24th. Displacement runners for the Blue Devils were junior Kyle Egan and freshman Tony Gettino.

The Blue Devils’ next meet is in two weeks, Sept. 15, at the University of Rochester Yellowjacket Invitiaitonal, and their next home meet is Oct. 27, the SUNYAC championships. On that day, the women will run 6,000 meters and the men’s 8,000 meters.