Both the Seton Hall men’s and women’s cross country teams look to continue their recent hot streaks this weekend in the Bronx at the Metropolitan Championships.
The race will take place at Van Cortlandt Park, where each team is looking to improve after lackluster finishes last year. The men’s team, which is coming off of a third-place finish at the Cappy Anderson Invitational in Princess Anne, Md., will be depending on maturity, accord- ing to coach John Moon.
“I think we’re going to surprise some people,” Moon said. “We have really grown since last year, and we’ve gotten stronger. I’m expecting to be in the top five this year. It’d be a big step up.”
The men’s team will also be looking for leadership from senior captain Ryan Flannery, who thinks his teammates have been stronger and faster than ever before.
“We did really well in Maryland, running our best times mostly,” said Flannery. “This team is the best team I’ve been around. I tell these guys to run with confidence. If they run with their guts, I think we can definitely pull something out.”
For the men, the team is looking to better itself after finishing third out of seven teams at the last meet and in the top half of all of their meets so far.
“We need to work on running in a pack better,” Flannery said. “Some of us are a little afraid to stick with each other, but we can run with each other and run the same times. We all do it in practice. I always tell them to run with confidence, and we can do that.”
On the women’s side, there have been more problems for Moon, but he and the team managed to overcome obstacles and race better than once thought at the season’s start.
“Physically, they’re ready for this weekend, but I want to make sure they are ready mentally,” Moon said. “We have dealt with injuries. They happen a lot in this sport. And I’m proud of the team, because so far the girls have been stepping it up.”
The women’s team finished fourth out of nine at the Cappy Anderson Invitational, and have placed no lower than fourth in any meet this season. Moon credits their efforts to perseverance among other things.
“Christiana’s (Rutkowski) injury was a setback,” Moon said. “But the women will be very compet- itive. I’m excited for them. Van Cortlandt is a tough park but we know that. The girls are ready.”
Senior women’s team captain Amanda Catherall has seen the team take these issues in stride and expects the team to do what is necessary in order to finish higher than last year, which was seventh out of 12 teams.
“My expectations are very high in the sense that we will do well,” Catherall said. “I would like to see the girls put in a good race as a whole, with our fourth and fifth girls up there with the other three. The girls have been racing well so far this season, but it would be nice to see us move in the race more as a pack. I think that if our top five girls can run a race together, we will be in there.”
Catherall has had to deal with her own setback—an injury similar to Rutkowski’s.
“I have also been dealing with IT Band issues, but thankfully I am back to running with the team,” Catherall said. “For the team, in- jures are what hurt us this year, but I think that all the hard work and dedication that the healthy girls have put in will help us strive for the goals that we set forth for ourselves. As a captain, I am very proud of all the girls on the team and the hard work that they have been putting in.”
In the end, both teams and Moon expect nothing less than success come this weekend in their first championship race of the season.
“We’ve all stepped it up, and we’re going to be competitive,” Moon said.
Matt Lamb can be reached at email@example.com.