The College’s cross country teams brushed elbows in a fight for coveted real estate with nationally acclaimed Division I, II, and III programs at the Goodman Campus course of Lehigh University on Friday for the 36th annual Brooks Paul Short Run.
“Your mindset doesn’t really change in a race like this,” said junior T.J. Bocchino. “The only difference is, when racing against NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference) teams we’re usually out ahead of the competition. Here, we have to realize that these racers are some of the best in the country, and sometimes the best in the world. But you still have to run your race and trust yourself.”
T.J. Bocchino took the top spot for the 33rd Nationally Ranked Lions men when he broke the tape with an 8K time of 25:43. The junior turned in an impressive individual performance, finishing 26th of 332 racers.
“I did alright,” Bocchino said. “I ran a little slower than last year, but, I’m putting in more mileage and training time, because I’m really focusing on the Conference Championship and I want to be ready for that.”
Junior Dennie Waite and sophomore Andy Herschman both finished in the Top 100 helping cement The College’s 16th place showing. Waite punched his time card at 26:13 in 61st and Herschman followed in 96th position at 26:31.
Bocchino admitted his team did not run a perfect race but emphasized inexperience as a prominent factor in the Lions’ middle of the pack result.
“You have to remember we’re a young team. For many of our guys this is the first time they’ve ever run an 8K and the results weren’t bad,” said Bocchino. “We didn’t run the most stellar race but it’s definitely a good starting point to improve upon.”
Wayne State University took top honors overall. Rider University and Monmouth University took 9th and 12th place respectively. However, the Lions did best the only other NJAC teams in the race, Ramapo College and Rowan University, which finished in 30th and 32nd place respectively
Michelle Wallace led the way for the 17th Nationally Ranked Women’s Cross Country Program as the only Lion to finish in the Top 100 in the Women’s College Gold 6k race. Wallace who finished in 63rd place, an impressive feat considering the competition, was quite pleased with her outing and saw a distinct improvement from last year.
“I’m very happy with my performance,” said Wallace. “Coming into the race I hoped to break 22 minutes and I finished at 21:39. Also, it was very pleasing to see such a big improvement from last year when I finished at 22:15.”
The winning women’s team was the Mountaineers of West Virginia University who currently hold the 4th spot in the NCAA Division I National Rankings. Johns Hopkins University presently shares the number one national ranking for Division III schools, and the Blue Jays could only muster up a 15th place finish at the Brooks Paul Short Run.
With the help of senior Nicole Ullmeyer, who clocked in 22:53, and sophomore Katie Nestor, who crossed the finish line at 23:02, the Lions were able to edge out the last place Adelphi University, who is also a Nationally Ranked program in NCAA Division II Women’s Cross Country.
“One of our team’s big problems this year is not being able to relax before our races. I was very happy to see our team able to relax and shake the nerves off on Friday…We put in the work beforehand, we were prepared to race, and we put out one of our best performances at the Brooks Paul Short Run in a while.”