The men and women’s cross country teams race Big-5 teams.
Freshman Jenna Dubrow, who has led the women’s team at every meet this season, did so again Saturday, finishing in 108th with a time of 24 minutes, 33 seconds, and seven milliseconds at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Dubrow’s time helped the Owls finish 22nd overall, besting last year’s finish of 25th place and the team’s finish was also the best in the program’s history.
The men and women’s cross country teams last competed at the Atlantic Ten Conference Championships on Oct. 29. At regionals, both the men and women’s courses were longer distances than what the teams raced on during the season, as the men completed a 10K and the women raced a 6K.
“The women, I wouldn’t say, had an amazing day,” coach Matthew Jelley said. “So for us to still have had our best finish ever, it definitely shows we’re moving in the right direction.”
The women’s race was the subject of much confusion, as all of the runners faced an additional, and unexpected obstacle. The hosts of the meet, who led the field in a golf cart to show the path of the race, made a wrong turn, causing the course to be extended by about a third of a mile. Although every team was affected, Jelley said he believed it caused some problems for the Owls.
“Everyone had to do the same thing,” Jelley said. “But it’s still rough when you think you’re going to be done at a certain point, and you’ve got another three minutes more of running. That’s tough.”
Following Dubrow were sophomores Taylor Goldsworthy, Anna Pavone, Stephanie Dorantes and Erin Casey who finished 126th, 129th, 139th and 160th respectively.
Villanova claimed the team title for the women’s side with an average time of 22:02.54 per runner. Other schools from the Big 5 in the Top 15 included La Salle (sixth place), Pennsylvania (11th place), and St. Joseph’s (13th place).
The men’s squad, which placed 16th in the 25-team event, was led by freshman Matthew Kacyon who placed 73rd with a time of 32:30.93. Kacyon, who battled through illness at the A-10s, said he felt much better last weekend at regionals.
“I think the race went great today,” Kacyon said. “This was my first 10k, so I really had no idea what to expect going into it. But I definitely felt 100 percent better this week than I did at the last race.”
Closely following Kacyon were sophomores William Kellar and Philip Fanz who finished 78th and 81st, respectively. All three runners finished within 10 seconds of each other.
At last year’s regional championships, the men’s team placed 14th. Considering the loss of two of their top runners to graduation, and the redshirting of senior Travis Mahoney, Jelley said he is content with the squad’s finish.
“You take away the top three guys from last year’s team, and in a rebuilding year, we ended up placing only two places out of where we were last year,” Jelley said. “It was a real solid performance, and it shows us our depth is getting much better.”
Jelley said the men were predicted to finish between 20th and 25th place. The Owls’ 16th place finish was just one spot short of being a ranked team in the region.
Georgetown took the men’s team title, with an average time of 30:48.94 per runner. Several Big 5 teams placed in the Top 15, including Villanova (second place), La Salle (sixth place), St. Joseph’s (seventh), and Pennsylvania (13th place), respectively.
Jelley said that next year, he expects the men’s team to be ranked in the Top 10 in the region, and that the women’s team will have an opportunity to be ranked as well. To help accomplish this, Jelley said he is hopeful next year’s recruiting class will help continue the squads’ upward trend they have seen during the past few seasons.
“Each year that I’ve been here, we’ve had a better recruiting class than we’ve ever had,” Jelley said. “Hopefully we land a couple of the recruits were talking to, and put that with the roster we have and we’re on the verge of moving ourselves into one of those upper echelon, elite programs.”
On Saturday the Owls will finish their season where it all began at Van Courtlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y. It will be the final meet for seniors Geoff Barletta and Ben Thomas.
“We’ve got one more meet to go out at, and hopefully we can put the icing on the cake for what was a pretty successful season, considering what we went into it with,” Jelley said.
Avery Maehrer can be reached at email@example.com.