SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – The Seton Hall University cross country team will get their season underway this weekend as the men and women will partake in the Monmouth XC Kick-Off on Saturday, Aug. 30.
The Monmouth event has traditionally been known to be a shorter distance. It gives runners a chance to get back into the swing of things as the new season starts up and competition resumes.
The men’s team has 13 members returning in 2014, including recently-named captain Victor Ricci and returning captains Ryan Flannery, Tyler Orner and Kevin Walsh. “Ricci is a leader,” Coach John Moon said. “He’s a takeover type of guy, he’s dedicated, he’s a leader, he’s a role model.”
“He’s a really good runner,” Flannery said of his new co-captain. “On the track Ricci is a great leader, he really motivates guys and makes sure we are going one hundred percent all the time.”
Flannery went on to praise the sophomore’s natural ability, relaxed demeanor and desire to have fun with the sport.
The women have several runners coming back as well, including underclassmen standouts Mary Migton, Desyre Blackburn, Amanda Catherall and Bri Miller. The four will all serve as team captains. Migton is currently dealing with shin splints, according to Moon.
Catherall said she is expecting a big year from her team as they prepare for the opener.
“The major goal that I have for the team is to better ourselves in the Big East Championship,” she said. “Last year we beat St. John's and I believe that we can catch a few more teams this year. We are a strong team, and I think that it is very possible to improve on our standings.”
As for this weekend, Catherall is confident the team will be successful. “I feel that the team and I are ready for our season opener at Monmouth University,” she said. “It has been a very difficult week and a half with doubles every day and lifting twice a week, but it will be worth it. I have a good feeling that we are going to have some fast times this weekend and in the meets to come.”
Like Catherall, Moon is expecting a strong season. “We’re a dark horse,” he said. “People will be surprised.”
Flannery echoed Catherall’s and his coach’s winning sentiments as well, declaring that the Pirates would in fact take others by surprise in 2014.
“We’re not going to settle for last this year,” Flannery said when asked of the team’s expectations. “We’re not going to settle for however many second place finishes we had last year. That’s not good enough at this point. I think a lot of teams come Big East time, and in the end, are going to be going, ‘Where the heck did this team come from?’”
Gary Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org on twitter @GPhillips2727. For complete coverage of Seton Hall athletics, follow @setoniansports.