The Seton Hall men and women’s cross country teams will head to the Bronx on Friday, Oct. 10, to compete in the Metropolitan Championships.
Neither team has finished outside the top three this season, including a second place performance by both teams at the Asics-Embry Riddle Classic.
The competition at the Metropolitan Championships is expected to be the toughest Seton Hall has seen so far this year, according to head coach John Moon.
“This is much higher competition… You have a couple of teams who are ranked in the NCAA, it’s going to be tough,” he said.
Coach Moon expects to see 15 schools competing as opposed to the 10 that competed in the Pirates’ last event. He noted that while there were two D1 schools at the Asics-Embry Riddle Classic, this event will have about 10.
Coach Moon expects his team to turn some heads, despite the increased level of competition.
“I think that what I have right now, they are going to surprise people. I think these guys right here are working hard… we are looking forward to the challenge and I love the idea of running against the big boys,” he said.
Leading the way for the Pirates is freshman Christina Rutkowski, who Moon describes as “awesome.” Rutkowski was the top collegiate finisher amongst the 84 female competitors at the Asics-Embry Riddle classic, clocking in a 5K time of 19:08:44. In addition to her latest impressive performance, Rutkowski has also been the Hall’s top finisher in each event this season, never finishing outside the top five. “She doesn’t see other names, she doesn’t see other schools, she just runs,” Moon added.
The Pirates will also turn to junior Amanda Quaglia who earned a spot in the top-10 with a time of 20:13:50 in her last event.
The Seton Hall women also have the services of senior Mary Migton, who made her return two weeks ago in Florida after missing some time with an injury. Migton started her season strong with a top six finish at the Monmouth XC Kickoff.
Heading into the Metropolitan Championships, the men’s team has five top-20 finishers from the Asics-Embry Riddle classic.
Sophomore Victor Ricci led the way for SHU two weeks ago recording a time of 27:42:81 in the 8K. Coach Moon expects Ricci along with junior Ryan Flannery, who finished 19th with a time of 28:16:05 in his last meet, to be a “dynamic combination” for the rest of the season.
Also coming off top-20 finishes are freshman Jake Simon as well as seniors John and Kevin Walsh. Simon’s last performance resulted in a 27:58:15 8K time. John and Kevin Walsh crossed the finish line within .5 seconds of each other with Kevin finishing with a time of 28:10:55 while John clocked a 28:10:99 8K.
The Pirates’ will look to finish this event strongly as they prepare for bigger events such as the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Championship and the IC4A Championship.
“Anytime a coach can be in the top echelon of any meet that’s important. You have to do well in the small meets before you can think about doing well in the big meets. My kids are motivated because we are doing well in the small competitions. And now they can step it up and I think they’re ready to step it up,” Moon said.
Lack of motivation is not something that plagues this group of runners who have adopted the philosophy of “Beat us: we have nothing to lose, you have everything to lose.”
Moon considers this the best team he has had since 2010.
“It’s a team effort, they’re pushing each other. They’re motivated. I’m proud of these guys,” he said.
Next up for the Pirates after the completion of the Metropolitan Championships is the Leopard Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 18.
Matthew Zeigafuse can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter at @mattzeigafuse