Hefty competition awaited the men’s and women’s cross country teams at the Princeton Invitational this Saturday – runners from over 50 different college teams, from all three NCAA divisions, competed at the meet at nearby West Windsor Fields.
The sheer number of runners and the talented challengers from big schools like Villanova, University of Pennsylvania and Cornell, gave the Lions some trouble.
“Because there were so many people in the race, our group ended up getting split up,” sophomore Andrew Tedeschi said. There were 180 runners in the men’s race alone.
Despite the challenge, the men’s team took third out of 27 teams with a total of 136 points.
Top Lion of the race was sophomore Brandon Mazzarella, who took 13th with a time of 25:53, a personal record. Tedeschi was just three seconds behind in 16th place.
Freshman Dale Johnson, who has been having an impressive rookie season, took 27th with a time of 26:22. Behind Johnson, a pair of seniors rounded out the College’s top five runners – Andrew DeMaria took 39th with a time of 26:33 while Jeremy Garrell was just two seconds behind in 41st.
The women’s team placed sixth out of 29 teams with a total of 182 points. The first Lion to cross the finish line was senior Megan Stack, who took 18th out of 187 at 23:44.
Stack ran into the same problems felt by the men’s team: There were so many runners that she “could not tell where her teammates were.”
Regardless, she used the competition to her advantage.
“I just ran my own race and used whoever was around me to push me to run faster,” she said.
Behind Stack, freshman Allison Fournier finished 34th with a time of 24:12. Fourier is also having a strong rookie season. Just behind Fournier, sophomore Laura Straub and senior Jillian Manzo took 36th and 37th, respectively, both with times of 24:15.
Senior Liz Johnson ran a time of 24:43 to finish 57th while junior Kayla Glynn closely followed her to finish 63rd with a time of 24:50.
The College wasn’t all at a disadvantage. The Lions had the upper hand in one instance — barring Princeton, the College is the closest school to the fields, meaning they were able to practice on the course. This greatly benefitted Fournier.
“We did two workouts on the course in the weeks leading up to the race, so I felt pretty familiar with it,” she said.
It is rare for the Lions to get a glimpse of the course they’re running until the day of the meet. The only other time this will happen this year is with the NJAC Championships, when the Lions got a sneak peek of the course they’ll run in the Championship at the Stockton-hosted Osprey Open.
The Lions, above all, are confident about the team’s performance.
“We are motivated for a very strong team performance, and we are continuing to train in order to make this happen,” Fournier said.