Freshmen leading the charge for cross country
With the cross country season underway, the Seton Hall University men’s and women’s team will gear up for the St. John’s-Hofstra Fall Festival on Sunday.
This will be the second meet for the men and the women, who saw success this past Saturday at the Monmouth XC Kick-Off, placing third and second overall, respectively in the Hall’s season-opener.
With a time of 19:53.2, senior captain Kevin Walsh set a new personal best while leading his team for the first time in his career, finishing 12th place overall.
“I’m so proud of that kid,” Ryan Flannery said of his co-captain. “These past two seasons he’s been coming off injury. He hasn’t had the results he has wanted since he came here. He started off with a bang this year… I’m really proud of him.”
Also finishing in the top-30 were freshman Jeff Lawson (14th), Bryant Cordova (16th), Jacob Simon (19th) and Jimmy Sause (27th), as well as sophomore Sean Kip (24th) and senior John Walsh (18th). The group of freshman’s immediate results are making an impact on their teammates.
“These kids come in and they’re automatically good,” Flannery said of the newcomers. “They have so much talent, they’re working hard. They don’t let intimidation from upperclassmen or thinking that someone is better than them stop them from accomplishing what they have to do.”
Like the men, the freshman women are also turning heads. Freshmen and Middletown native, Christiana Rutkowski led the Pirates with a 15:10.3 mark and finished fourth overall.
“I was definitely a little nervous,” Rutkowski said of her first college meet. “I was really excited to be with this new group of girls and Coach (John) Moon has trained us well, so I was more confident knowing that the training was going to come into play.”
Another freshman, Bailey Seach, came in 20th place overall with a time of 15:53.9. Senior Mary Migton was not far behind Rutkowski, finishing at 15:12.4 and in fourth place, the 11th straight fall race Migton has now placed in the team’s top-two.
The Pirates must now focus on the Fall Festival. Flannery said getting off to a fast start will be a priority.
“We all have to be up front or near it,” he said. “You want to win a race, you have to have guys sticking together throughout the race upfront, or at least close.”
Rutkowski had a few areas of her personal game that she wanted to improve upon for Sunday.
“Sometimes I go out a little too fast and I find myself struggling to kick at the end,” she said. “I want to make sure that I go out well enough to stick to the pack but I also have enough left so I can kick it in the end.”
As far as preparation for this weekend, Moon said he was keeping the training light coming off the team’s first meet of the season.
“The program this week was tailored down,” Moon said. “I have a lot of sore legs.”
He also added that the team was doing mostly grass work and some more relaxed workouts in order to keep runners fresh for Sunday. Moon is expecting another strong meet from the Pirates.
“When you have a competition you want to win,” he said. “I think we will do better than we did last year at this meet, without a doubt. I think they could be in the top-two.”
The Fall Festival, an event co-hosted by the Red Storm and Pride, will take place in Oakdale, N.Y. The event will feature a women’s 4K race and a men’s 5K.
Gary Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @GPhillips2727.