Rensselaer men’s and women’s cross country teams racing seasons debuted on Saturday at the Ronald Stonitsch Invitational in Poughkeepsie, NY. Both the men and the women garnered second place titles at the meet.
The Vassar Brewers hosted the meet at Vassar Farm, a 527 acre ecological preserve. Eleven teams competed on the women’s side and ten on the men’s.
“Many of our girls had big personal records despite the heat and the [grassy] course conditions,” said junior girls team co-captain Maddie Dery, who placed sixth with 19:18.1 in the women’s 5K race. Sophomore Jamie Lord took second place in 18:53.9 to a girl who ran unattached, and senior Shannon Trant came in fifth in 19:16.4.
Landing five women in the top 15, the RPI women scored 34, but were narrowly nudged out of victory by Stevens Institute of Technology, scoring 28.
“As a whole, we have really ramped up our training this summer,” said Dery. “The majority of the girls increased their mileage from last summer, and we saw a lot of people running 7 days a week as well as adding in doubles. Some of our highest mileage girls were hitting 65+ miles per week at the peak of summer training.”
Dery has high confidence in her team and many aspirations for the girls as the season progresses. “As a team we are really excited and determined to show the region what we can do,” she said. “This is going to be one of our most competitive seasons yet, and we have a really good chance of beating out rivals like St. Lawrence University. Our goal is to get a bid to compete at Nationals at the end of the season, but for now we are going to take it one race at a time. With all of the hard work that has already been put in, and the dedication and commitment of all of our girls to the sport, this is looking to be one of our best seasons and I can’t wait to see what it brings!”
Senior girls co-captain Loki Rasmussen complimented Dery’s optimistic attitude towards the quality and direction of the girls’ team. Rasmussen remarked, “it’s clear that the program is just getting better year to year, and I’m very impressed with the work all our girls did over the summer to come out looking like they did.”
Vassar barely escaped with the win on the men’s side, with RPI taking second 47-44. Freshman Grant O’Connor and junior Garrett Davis came in second and third with 19:48.6 and 19:52.4 respectively.
Reflecting on his first collegiate racing experience, O’Connor remembers maintaining a positive mentality throughout the 6K race and acquiring the confidence to move into second place and head for the leader around the two mile mark.
“I went into the race with open expectations, not knowing what to expect of the course or competition,” said O’Connor. “My goal was to get in a good race effort and start adjusting to collegiate racing, and I think I accomplished that well. I stayed relaxed in the first two miles then moved into second place and maintained my position and composure until the finish at 6 km. I am pleased with the result and my current fitness, and I think it bodes well for future races where we will race 8 km.”
This Saturday, September 12, RPI will host its cross country meet at 1 pm at Saratoga Springs State Park in Saratoga Springs, NY, where nationally ranked contenders including Williams College and St. Lawrence University will be amongst the competition.