Lions fair well against nationally ranked teams

The cross country team traveled to Bethlehem, Pa. last Friday to compete in the Paul Short Invitational.

One of the largest cross country meets in the country, the event boasted a talented field of runners and posed one of the first big challenges of the season for the Lions. Teams from Division I, II and III schools all competed.

“Both (the men and women’s) teams held up pretty well,” head coach Phil Jennings said. “This was probably one of the most competitive meets we’ll see, and both teams beat some very tough teams that have beaten us in the past.”

The men’s team finished the 8K race placing 18th with a score of 563. The winner of the meet was Villanova University with a score of 50.

Leading the men’s team for the third week in a row, junior Chris Guerriero crossed the finish line in a time of 25:09 to take 46th place. Guerriero ran the second-fastest time on this course in the College’s history.

“He’s becoming a true force,” senior co-captain Galen Johnson said about teammate Guerriero. Johnson placed 91st in 25:48, while sophomore Brandon Rodkewitz added a 132nd place finish in 26:08.

The other scorers for the men’s team were senior Steve Kinney (144th in 26:12), freshman TJ Bocchino (150th in 26:15) and seniors Anthony Arnold (181st in 26:32) and Kyle Alpaugh (212nd in 26:56).

On the women’s side, the Lions ran a 6K race against 47 schools, 12 of which are nationally ranked. The College finished in 33rd place with a total score of 854. The winner of the meet was Princeton University with 45 points.

“It is hard to compare, but this meet may have improved our national rankings,” Jennings said.

Junior Martine McGrath led the team once again, finishing 127th in a time of 22:51. The Lions’ next place finisher was senior Angela Tecco who ranked 154th in 23:10.

“We keep pushing each other and making some big improvements,” Tecco said about Friday’s meet.

Additionally, junior Megan O’Leary added a 181st place finish in a time of 23:27, while fellow junior Stephanie Herrick followed in 191st with a time of 23:36. Rounding out the women’s scorers were junior Nicole Ullmeyer (201st in 23:43), senior co-captain Christine Nystrom (230th in 24:05) and senior Erin Enderly (273rd in 24:54).

“We’re going to become more unified in this next week or two as we travel out and represent New Jersey in a national help meet,” Tecco said.

The Lions will now prepare to compete at the Oshkosh Invitational in Wisconsin where competition will be even more intense.

“This is the perfect stage to showcase what we’ve got,” Johnson said.

With positive team morale and strong focus in practice, the cross country teams can expect big things in the upcoming weeks.