By Miguel Gonzalez
While students were on fall break, the men’s and women’s cross country teams were chasing top 20 positions at two invitationals. On Oct. 7, the Lions traveled to Center Valley, Pennsylvania, to compete in the DeSales University Invitational. The men ran their way to a seventh place finish out of 28 teams in the 5000-meter race. The women claimed ninth place out of 22 teams in the 5000-meter race as well.
The following Saturday, Oct. 14, the Lions excelled in the Gettysburg College Invitational. The men finished in second place out of 25 teams. Meanwhile, the women took first place for the second time this season, outpacing 31 other teams.
268 runners competed at the DeSales University Invitational. Senior Dale Johnson pushed himself to a third place finish with a time of 26:10. More than a minute later, freshman Pelle Nogueira captured 32nd place and clocked in at 27:20. Fellow freshman Alex Carideo came in later as he finished in 41st place with a time of 27:38.
“I look forward to seeing how much our runners improve as the season goes on,” Johnson said. “We’re a lot deeper than we’ve ever been and the younger guys are already setting the tone for future success.”
Sophomores Evan Bush and Chris Coombs crossed the finish line in the top 100 positions. Lastly, sophomore Lucas Pick and freshmen Cedric Noel and Noah Preihs were able to reach in scoring positions.
At the women’s 5000-meter race, the freshmen led the Lions as they competed against 225 runners. Freshman Jessica Hrnciar secured 47th place with a time of 25:31. Just nine seconds later, fellow freshman Casey Hopkins ran to 51st place and clocked in at 25:40. Afterwards, freshman Jill Neggia and sophomore Kiera Cullen placed within the top 100 spots.
At Gettysburg, the men’s cross country team ran toe-to-toe with 239 runners in the 8000-meter race. Freshman Robert Abrams secured sixth place with a time of 26:06. Junior Quinn Wasko made it to tenth place and clocked in at 26:27. Fellow junior Brian Mitchell was only a second behind as he claimed 12th place with a time of 26:28.
Freshman Joey Erskine followed up and claimed 15th place with a finishing time of 26:32. Junior Luke Prothero and sophomores Richard Gruters and Andrew Dyer were able to get within the top 35 of the race.
The women’s cross country team outdid their fellow Lions and won first place overall in the 6000-meter race. Junior Natalie Cooper led the team with a second place finish, clocking in at 22:35. Not long after, fellow junior Madeleine Tattory got fifth place with a time of 22:50. Sophomore Gabby DeVito took eighth place and clocked in at 22:59.
Just seven seconds later, junior Erin Holzbaur claimed ninth place, hitting the clock at 23:06. Juniors Abigail Faith and Emma Bean and freshman MaryKate Bailey reached within the top 55 of the race.
The men’s and women’s cross country teams will now gear up for the New Jersey Athletic Conference championships at Stockton University on Saturday, Oct. 28. The men will be looking to claim their 24th consecutive conference title, while the women will be looking to claim the title after falling short at second place last year.