Cross country’s season ends

The College’s cross country teams took two seventh-place finishes on Saturday at the Atlantic Regional Championships but fell short of earning nationals berths, effectively ending a pair of otherwise successful seasons.

Hampered by injuries and a slow start, the men’s team finished two places shy of an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.

The men's team won the NJAC but failed to qualify for the NCAA CHampionships. (Courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

“It wasn’t our best showing as a team this year. We ourselves got caught in the back at the beginning of the race,” senior Andy Herschman said.

An all-senior squad of Herschman (30th out of 267 runners), Rob Nihen (34th), Nick Bond (43rd), Shaun McGeever (49th) and Alex Yersak (63rd) contributed to the College’s point total of 219. They averaged 26:30, a slight drop-off from the team’s last performance on Oct. 29 at the NJACs.

Still, the Lions are not ready to let Saturday’s disappointment characterize what has been a positive year — one that featured their 18th consecutive NJAC title and going undefeated against rival Rowan University in two meetings.

“We definitely have had a great season. We can’t let (Saturday’s result) define us,” said junior Andy Gallagher.

The Lions expect to continue their culture of success next season, even though they will lose almost all of their regular contributors to graduation.

“We’re going to have a rebuilding year next season, but there’s not that much of a drop-off in talent. We have a really deep team,” Gallagher said.

“There’s a lot of guys right there, the rising juniors, the rising sophomores. We’re going to recruit a good class of freshman next year,” Herschman said. “I’m confident in the guys that we have right now.”

The women’s team earned a similar result to that of the men’s, settling for seventh place at a tough meet with 36 teams.

Junior Cathy Goncalves (29th out of 256 runners), senior Katie Nestor (32nd), sophomore Megan Flynn (38th), junior Rachel Morris (51st) and freshman Jilian Manzo (52nd) contributed to the College’s point total of 202, which was just one point short of sixth-ranked Vassar.

“There’s nothing more we could have done,” Goncalves said. “We’re in the toughest region in the country, and unfortunately the cards didn’t fall the way we had hoped.”

It was a disappointing result for the Lions, who also stumbled in last month’s NJAC Championships against Rowan, but their team-building season featured some highs as well as some lows.

With a strong team dynamic and a returning class of experienced runners, including four of the top-five finishers on Saturday, the Lions could be a force to be reckoned with next season.

Both Lions teams did not cancel their dates with nationals. They just postponed them until next year.

“Even though we’ll be losing (Nestor), we’re more focused and determined than ever before,” Goncalves said. “We’ll make sure to take back the NJAC title and go to nationals next year.”