Temple hosted the Atlantic 10 Championships earlier today, as the men’s and women’s teams placed fourth and 14th respectively, in what is the final time the school will participate in the annual event before its transition to the Big East Conference next season. The men’s finish is the highest in school history.
Redshirt senior Travis Mahoney was the standout performer of the day, nailing the first place victory with a dominant final stretch in which he outpaced LaSalle senior Alfredo Santana, last year’s champion. Mahoney’s victory is the first in Temple cross country history at A-10 Championships, and his third conference title of the calendar year, having won the 5000 meter run and 4×400 meter relay in outdoor track.
“Unbelievable,” first-year Temple coach Adam Bray said. “Unbelievable job. It just shows how talented he is. The kid puts in a lot of hard work and you see it out here on the course in how good he is.”
Belmont Plateau serves as the practice location not only for Temple, but for Saint Joseph’s and LaSalle as well.
“I thought it was going to be more of a push earlier,” Mahoney said. “Everyone kind of stayed relaxed and the Philly guys, me and [Santana], we kind of both know the course. It’s just trying to stay as relaxed as you can when running the course—Use uphills and the downhills and the flats and stay relaxed.”
A mile into the race, Mahoney was in ninth. About ten minutes in, he was hovering around fifth place. A few moments later, Mahoney was spotted in second. It was neck-and-neck before the runners disappeared into the woods from the eyes of those watching. As the spectators awaited the runners’ reemergence from the trees as they rounded the final turn, the home crowd erupted as Mahoney was revealed with a sizable and insurmountable lead over Santana. Mahoney’s final race time was 25:16.5.
“At the top of the hill I stayed on top of him, and dashed to the side to make my move,” Mahoney said. “I have a little longer stride than he has so it played into my advantage to make that move at that spot with the downhill. So I used the downhill and just got excited and used it through to finish. It was awesome to cap my last A-10 Conference with a win so it meant a real lot.”
Junior Will Kellar followed shortly behind Mahoney placing 14th, good enough to earn All-Conference honors, which recognizes the top 15 athletes of each race. Sophomore Cullen Davis missed making All-Conference by about seven seconds, but his 17th place finish was good enough to best his performance last year by 58 placements.
The men’s race was won by Butler, who with 38 points blew out the competition, with Saint Joseph’s being a distant second with 121. Temple came within six points of that figure, racking up a total of 127. LaSalle was the third place finisher, making three out of the top four teams Philadelphia-based and familiar with Belmont’s course.
While the men’s team showed significant improvement over last year’s race, the women failed to do the same, dropping down two spots from last year’s 12th place finish.
The group was, however, hampered by the last-minute loss of freshman Christin Bettis, who as of today is no longer with the team. Bettis made her collegiate debut two weeks ago at the Leopard Invitational, where she placed third on the team with a 39th place finish. After that race, Bray said that the addition of her, along with junior Anna Pavone (both were delayed from starting the season due to injury), “completely changed the dynamic” of the team. According to Bray, Bettis quit due to “personal issues back home that she has to take care of.”
Despite the lackluster overall finish, the Owls were able to find positives in two notable individual performances. Sophomore Jenna Dubrow, who last year came in 54th, cut her placement by more than half with a 25th place finish. This race also marks Dubrow’s tenth race of her Temple career, and she’s led the team in every one of them. Pavone too impressed on the field today with a 40th place finish, which also more than halves her performance last year of 81st place.
“It’s those little battles that we have to win,” Bray said. “The men’s team is a little deeper than the women’s team, so it shows in the team results. That’s what I’m working on with recruiting, and things like that.”
Dubrow said she would have liked to have seen herself do even better.
“I’m happy with [my performance], but not completely satisfied because I wanted to get top 15 which is All-Conference,” Dubrow said. “But in terms of last year, I got 54th and this year I got 25th so I basically cut it in half. So I’m obviously happy with that.”
“I don’t know if it was a motivation thing, but I think we definitely could have run better as a team,” Dubrow added.
For Bray, the fact that the team is able to recognize potential room for improvement is a step in the right direction.
“They know that getting 14th place in a meet is not what we want,” Bray added. “It’s not acceptable. And they’re willing to work hard. That’s the most important thing. They can be happy with their performances, but not satisfied with the results.”
Butler won the women’s race, followed by second place finisher LaSalle and third place finisher Richmond. In its Atlantic-10 debut, Butler won both the men’s 8k and women’s 5k races.
The Owls will return to action on Nov. 9 when they head westward to Penn State for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships.