The men and women’s teams finish 10th and 12th place at meet.
The cross-country teams knew they were underdogs at the Atlantic Ten Conference Championships.
But in a year where the Owls are rebuilding towards their respective futures, the runners were able to display several signs of encouragement last Saturday in Charlotte, N.C.
Sophomore Will Kellar led the men’s side, with a 36th place finish, and a time of 25 minutes, 39 seconds.
Kellar, who placed sixth on the team last year with a 72nd place finish, improved his time by nearly a full minute last Saturday. Keller, whose season has been shortened due to injury, said he was pleasantly surprised with his performance.
“I was actually really excited about the race,” Kellar said. “Two weeks ago we went up to Penn State, and going into the race I only had three days of training because I was out three weeks before that with a foot injury. So I really didn’t think I had much of a shot of doing anything today, but it turned out really well.”
Senior Ben Thomas, sophomore Philip Fanz, senior Geoff Barletta and freshman Cullen Davis followed Kellar placing 67th, 68th, 74th and 75th, respectively. Freshman Matt Kacyon, who has emerged as the star of the men’s team in his first year, was “sick as a dog” according to coach Matt Jelley and finished 82nd. His loss was greatly felt by the team.
“We were resting [Kacyon] up as much as possible and considering how sick he was, he ran an amazing race,” Jelley said. “But he ended up being the sixth man. So that wound up being a hit to us.”
Kellar wasn’t the only Owl to pick up speed. The night before the race, Jelley spoke with freshman Cullen Davis regarding his importance to the team the next morning.
“I talked to [Davis] the night before and said with [Kacyon] being sick we need other people to step up,” Jelley said.
Entering the A-10s, Davis had garnered a collective average time of 29:33. On Saturday, Davis finished with a time of 26:33, a full three-minute difference.
“That’s what we needed. When someone’s out and you’re shorthanded, everyone else has to step up,” Jelley said. “All of them showed a lot of heart.”
On the women’s side, freshman Jenna Dubrow continued her torrid pace, leading the team for the fourth-straight meet. She finished in 54th place with a time of 19:00, ranking 11th of all freshman runners participating in the race.
Dubrow said she has learned a lot during her first four races with the team.
“I feel like every race that I’ve ran was a different situation that I was put in,” Dubrow said. “And I feel like each one has helped me. Some races were good, some races I wanted to do better. But overall you can’t make up for the learning experience.”
Following Dubrow on the team were sophomores Anna Pavone and Taylor Goldsworthy, and junior Deirdre MacFarlane.
The women’s team placed 13th at the A-10s in the previous four years, despite a general increase in average times. This year, they managed to move up one spot to 12th place.
“Overall it wasn’t the best performance,” Jelley said. “So to do that, and still move up definitely shows us that we’re moving in the right direction and headed towards where we need to be.”
Jelley said the main issues with the women’s team stemmed from youth.
“Our main issue was mental,” Jelley said. “And when you’re younger and running against older teams and older runners, sometimes it takes a while for the mental part to be as strong as the physical part.”
While the men’s team failed to top last year’s school record-breaking performance, the women’s team showed a definite increase in terms of collaborative effort. At the 2010 championships, the team had just two runners finish with times under 20 minutes. This year, there were four.
Dubrow said that as a group the women should take a lot of pride out of that.
“I think that we were all in the same boat,” Dubrow said. “We all felt the pressure. We were all nervous together. But I think everyone liked the race that they ran.”
As a whole, Kellar is hopeful next year will bring better fortunes for the team.
“This season was a little bit of a disappointment,” Kellar said. “We didn’t really show up for the meets that we wanted to. But with the younger guys maturing, our future looks bright.”
Jelley does concede that there is room for improvement for his runners, but he too recognizes that the future will hold further success.
“Would we have like to have done better? Always,” Jelley said. “But we’ve definitely hit what we’ve needed to and taken those first steps into making this a very competitive and dominant team.”
Avery Maehrer can be reached at