Seton Hall cross country head coach John Moon can rightfully be optimistic about the future due to the tremendous efforts by the young but talented freshmen and sophomores on his team. Just as recently as the UMES Cappy Anderson Invitational on Sept. 22, the women came away with a victory as Emma Newgarden secured the fastest overall time at the meet. The freshman standout has felt the physical adjustment of running at the collegiate level, as when comparing the rigor of practice to high school, Newgarden noted a significant difference. “Definitely a lot more mileage than I had ever done in high school, but I just really like that – it something that works well with me,” Newgarden said. “One day in practice, we did over a half marathon in one run and I never would have thought that I would be able to do something like that. It makes you feel stronger knowing that you’re doing much more than in high school so, it gives you more confidence.” [caption id="attachment_24249" align="aligncenter" width="838"] Photo via SHU Athletics[/caption] After finishing third and fourth in the first two events of the season, the Staten Island, N.Y. native has now won back-to-back events in the 5k Embry-Riddle Classic and the 5k UMES Cappy Anderson event. Among the other top finishers at last weekend’s invitational were twins Emily and Olivia Hernandez, who finished third and fourth respectively. The sophomores also earned their fastest times of the season. A part of the plethora of underclassmen talent for the team, sophomore Cristina Fernandez rounded out the top-10 at the UMES Cappy Anderson Invitational. Winning events and earning high finishes has not been an easy path for Newgarden. She has always skillfully balanced the workload of being a student athlete. The valedictorian of her high school spoke about the difficulties of being in the Seton Hall Honors Program and mentioned how she, alongside the Hernandez twins, have handled the situation. “The class is very early, so, twice a week, the twins and I have to get up super early to run,” Newgarden said. “Usually practice is at seven in the morning but, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we go at six or sometimes 5:30 if we have to. It still is taking me some time to get used to the crazy schedule, but it has worked out fine.” Newgarden mentioned the significance of the advice that upperclassmen have given her and the other underclassmen on the squad. She also emphasized the importance of running her own race and not trying to mold her rhythm or pace into something out of her comfort zone. While she feels it is important to start out strong, she added that it is just as important to know that it is not the only way to get the best finish. “I have gotten so much more confidence since high school; I used to get very nervous before any race,” Newgarden said. “As a senior in high school, I kept thinking ‘it’s my last chance, last chance, last chance.’ Now, I am simply running and aiming to do my best with all the new chances.” Competition for the young talent will surely strengthen when the team faces deeper competition at events, goes against bigger named schools and runs longer distances. If the high finishes from the freshmen and sophomores can serve as a sample size of what is to come on the season, the team will have a bright year and future to look forward to. Evando Thompson can be reached email@example.com or on Twitter @Thompsev.
Underclassmen performances lead the way for cross country