Graduate student Marc Steinsberger and freshman Kristian Jensen held hands as they crossed the finish line to celebrate their strong start to the season.
The cross country team started the season on a strong note by placing first in the women’s and men’s races at the Temple Invitational on Friday at Belmont Plateau.
Steinsberger and Jensen placed second and third, respectively, in the men’s first team win in more than a year.
“For us it was an opportunity to race on the course and see where we are and to use this as a stepping stone for where we want to be for the [American Athletic] Conference Championships in October,” coach James Snyder said.
The Owls kicked off the season on their home course against East Carolina, Tulane and Southern New Hampshire University. The Pirates and Green Wave will return to Belmont Plateau for the American Athletic Conference Championship on Oct. 28.
Nice moment as Kristian Jensen and Marc Steinsberger finish 2nd and 3rd together. Very close finish between the two. pic.twitter.com/kEbN5cFbiy
— Michael (@mjzingrone) September 1, 2017
Temple’s goal for is to reach the podium at the conference championships. And the Owls have an advantage for the conference championship because unlike any other teams in The American, they train at Belmont Plateau regularly. The Owls will also race at Belmont Plateau on Oct. 7.
“I believe we have the most talented group on the men’s and women’s side we’ve ever had,” Snyder said. “Where that puts us in October remains to be seen. Both the men and women have a shot in being in the top three, and that is something we have never done before.”
“We can train here, we can practice here, we know what it is like,” sophomore Millie Howard said. “So for it to be on our home course just adds excitement to all of us.”
Snyder told his teams to take a more controlled approach to the race on Friday, and it was successful.
Howard finished second in the women’s 6,000 meter with a time of 22 minutes, 8.1 seconds. Three of her teammates placed shortly behind her as Temple claimed four of the top 10 spots.
Nine Temple men placed in the top 15 in a field of 41 runners on Friday. The Owls took spots seven through 13. Sophomore Kevin Lapsansky ran the 8,000 in 26:48 to place seventh, and freshman Anton Harrsen finished just more than four seconds after him.
“Training on this course shows us where we have to push, where we have to restrain ourselves a bit,” Jensen said. “We can see many of the other runners dying out in the last two miles where we just kept going.”
Temple’s runners are looking forward to the opportunity to host The American championship meet at Belmont Plateau. Despite a strong first meet at home, the Owls know they have work to do to achieve their goals.
“We have a talented team, plus we have the home court for the conference meet,” Steinsberger said. “So we want to finish in the top three. This year there is no excuses for us.”