By Malcolm Luck
Following a pair of solid performances on Sept. 29 at the Paul Short Invitational, the men and women’s cross country squads returned to the track in Newark, New Jersey to run in the NJIT Highlander Invitational.
Both teams put together fantastic performances, resulting in a fourth place finish for the men and a sixth place finish for the women.
The men participated in the 8k event with their top finisher, freshman Gabriel Calandri, coming in 27th place. His time of 27:31.00 was the top mark for the Lions and led the charge that gave his team its second best finish of the season.
A wave of freshmen competitors for the Lions followed. Claiming 31st place was freshman Fabian Mestanza, clocking in at 27:42.00. Next in line was freshman John Raisley with his time of 28:14.00, good for 46th. Freshman Michael Iannotta finished in 49th, crossing the finish line in 28:24.00.
Freshman Matthew Smith finished next for the Lions with his time of 28:37.00 in 57th place, followed by junior Luke Pacini in 62nd, clocking in at 28:58.00. Rounding out the event for the Lions were sophomore Alex Cafiero and freshman Jack Ennis, respectively completing the race in 64th and 69th places with their times of 29:01.00 and 29:19.00.
In a slate of 239 total competitors, the men’s team did not have a runner who placed lower than 69th place. This remarkable display of consistency allowed the College to accumulate an average time of 28:05.60, which ultimately earned fourth place among 31 total teams.
The women’s team displayed similar signs of consistency, beginning with senior Kelly Morrison. She raced to the top mark for the Lions, earning 26th place with her time of 20:09.00. Sophomores Jill Neggia and MaryKate Bailey completed the race just six seconds later, respectively finishing in 29th and 30th in 20 minutes and 15 seconds.
Freshman Grace Cocanower was the next top finisher for the Lions with her time of 20:52.00, good for 48th. Placing 52nd was sophomore Amy Cmielewski in 20:54.00 followed by junior Kiera Cullen in 54th, finishing just two seconds later in 20:56.00. Sophomore Katelyn Morgan followed close behind in 21:10.00, good for 60th. Sophomore Emily Forester and freshman Brittany Schofield came in 64th and 65th respectively with identical times of 21:14.00.
Rounding out the day for the women’s team were freshmen Tara Donoghue and Lauren Murphy and senior Gianna Melillo. Donoghue earned 69th with her time of 21:23.00, followed by Murphy in 82nd in 21:47.00 and Melillo in 118th, clocking in at 23:08.00.
The team combined for a total time of 1:42:25.00, averaging 20:29.00 amongst all of the College’s participants. The team finished in sixth place in a slate of 29 total teams.
Both teams will travel to New London, Connecticut on Saturday, Oct. 13 to participate in the Connecticut College Invitational, the last scheduled meet for the Lions until the New Jersey Athletic Conference Championships on Oct. 27.