Timing is everything in long distance running: knowing how to pace yourself for each mile, knowing when to add the final kick in at the end and knowing how to maintain consistency throughout the season. Given the Seton Hall men’s and women’s cross country teams’ personal successes in the first four meets, both are on pace to peak at the right time of the season when championship meets come around at the end of October.
Emma Newgarden has been the driving force behind the women’s squad. Filling the shoes of Christiana Rutkowski has been no easy task, but the freshman is accepting the challenge with ease. In Rutkowski’s first race with the Pirates in 2014, she notched a 15:10.3 in the four-kilometer run at the Monmouth Invitational. Newgarden has already surpassed the former Pirate with her 14:51 time (5:58.5 milesplit) at Monmouth on Sept. 1.
In her first varsity race on Sept. 8, she placed fourth overall and first for the Pirates with a 19:09.6 in the 5K at the Stony Brook Invitational.
This past weekend at the UMES Cappy Anderson Invitational, Newgarden reached a season-best time of 18:43.5 in the five-kilometer run which earned her a first place finish, 24 seconds over the next runner.
The women’s team has placed first in its last two meets due to the success and consistency of Newgarden and sisters Emily and Olivia Hernandez.
The Hernandez sisters have not finished a meet this season within more than 8.1 seconds of each other. Their final placement has come down to tenths of seconds as Olivia dashed past Emily at the Embry-Riddle Invitational on Sept. 15 to claim seventh place over her sister by seven-tenths of a second. Since the Cappy Anderson Invitational last year, Emily and Olivia have decreased their times by 14.1 seconds and 27.1 seconds, respectively.
On the men’s team, Jesse Southard has developed into the team’s leader and, like the Hernandez twins, he has improved his times since the beginning of his collegiate career. Southard has decreased his time by 19.2 seconds in the Monmouth race since running it in 2017 and has also cut 37.6 seconds off his Embry-Riddle-best since he first ran the event in 2016.
On the heels of Southard is Jarod Moser, who won the Cappy Anderson Invitational last season with a time of 26:22, and Justin Allone, who has become an important piece in the Hall’s top finishers.
Seton Hall’s times have only spiked slightly at the Embry-Riddle Invitational given the tough, hilly nature of the course.
The teams will have a similar challenge in a few weeks when they deal with the hilly terrain at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y., where they will race at the Metropolitan Championship on Oct. 12.
With the Big East Championship meet slated for Oct. 27, the Pirates have time to improve even more in the final few races. Pace in a race is as important as pace throughout the entirety of a season, and with the times that the Pirates are running now, there is no reason not to see them finishing strong.
Andrea Keppler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @keppler_andrea.