Running in their first eight kilometer race of the season on Saturday at Pineland Farms in New Glouster, ME, the Rensselaer men’s cross country team raced in their smallest meet of the season to date against host team, the Bates College Bobcats, and the Tufts University Jumbos. The RPI women ran against these same two teams as well as competitors from Wellesley College, a private girls’ school in Massachusetts.
In the women’s five kilometer race, the women’s cross country co-captain, junior Maddie Dery, placed fourth in 18:48.3, 16.6 seconds after the race leader from Tufts finished.
“This week was challenging for us,” said Dery, “We were facing tough competition, and the course was a little hillier than we are used to. Our goal for this week was to race as a team, running with our usual workout groups to try to move up in the field. I think that we were able to stick to this goal, and it made for a strong team effort that yielded good results.”
This “team effort” is exactly what helped the Engineers place three runners in the top ten of the 87 person race, including sophomore Jaime Lord, who packed up with Dery to cross the line right behind her in fifth with a time of 18:48.8. After Lord came junior Shannon Trant in seventh with 18:55.6.
In spite of the women attaining fourth in the points, head coach John Lynch spoke fondly of the pack strategy, saying that the women started “conservatively” and executed the plan “perfectly.”
On the men’s side, junior Ben Fazio, who sped his way into first place at the Saratoga Invitational on Saturday September 12, demonstrated his athletic prowess on Saturday when he finished second in 25:47.0, a mere 7.2 seconds behind the leader from Tufts. The third place finisher from Bates didn’t cross the line until 22.2 seconds after Fazio.
Fazio had this to say regarding the men’s team and his victory at Saratoga: “[It’s] always a great experience to be able to win a home meet in front of a good crowd, and even better to have the team do well against some really good competition. I was just very happy to be healthy and competing in an RPI singlet again. We knew coming in that we would have our hands full with the St. Lawrence and [New York University] teams, but everyone was excited nonetheless to get the season off to a good start. Despite getting third place, we’re confident with where we are in our buildup to the championship season and still have our eyes very much set on a Liberty League title and an NCAA Championship berth.”
Following Fazio for the Rensselaer men in the 64-person race were junior Garrett Davis in 10th with 26:53.3, freshman Grant O’Connor in 11th with 26:44.6, junior Matthew Cicciu in 14th with 27:00.4, freshman Sean O’Connor in 18th with 27:08.2, and sophomore Matthew Stewart in 19th with 27:09.7.
The cross country teams will be on a brief racing hiatus this weekend, but will reconvene on Saturday, October 3, at scenic Letchworth State Park in Geneseo, N.Y., for the Mike Woods Invitational hosted by the State University of New York at Geneseo.