James Snyder is embracing a new strategy this season.
The head of the cross country team is focusing on the team aspect of the sport, with hopes his runners pace each other during the team’s races.
At the Big 5 Invitational Friday at Belmont Plateau, the Owls did just that when the team’s top three finishers crossed the finish line within seven seconds of each other in the squad’s third place finish.
Senior Alex Izewski finished first for the Owls and fifth overall, followed closely teammates senior Matthew Kacyon and junior Stephan Listabarth, who finished 10th and 11th, respectively.
Johnathan Condly, the first freshman to finish for Temple at the Invitational and the 26th finisher overall, found his coach’s strategy useful during the meet.
“I was getting a little tired in the middle, but I had a lot of teammates around me so they helped pull me through to the finish,” Condly said. “I always had someone on my team I knew I could run with.”
Izewski said Snyder’s plan helps teammates encourage each other during the race.
“You always have another guy that you can lean on or count on or push you,” Izewski said. “So [Snyder] always says find someone else on the team and just kind of pull them along,”
Snyder said he emphasizes teamwork to his team because of how cross country is scored.
“Cross country is a team sport,” Snyder said. “If one person goes by one person, it’s a two point swing. If four people go by one person, it’s a ten point swing…that’s incredibly important.”
Despite the three Top 15 finishes and a third place finish as a team, Snyder said it is too early in the season to learn about his team from this race.
“I think it is interesting this time of year,” Snyder said. “It is early September and we try to see where we are but also realizing that the races that matter are October, early November. The conference championship is the one we’re gunning for,”
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org