Cross country members debuted their season at the Brother Doyle Meet of Champions.
Members of the men’s and women’s cross country teams kicked off their season last Saturday, as the runners traveled to Van Courtlandt Park in Bronx, N.Y. for the Brother Doyle Meet of Champions.
Sophomores Philip Fanz and Will Kellar led the men’s squad, which finished the race at 13th overall. Fanz placed 57th with a time of 26 minutes, 43 seconds, while Kellar clocked in at 26:57, placing 70th. The women’s team placed 14th in their race, on the heels of impressive performances by freshman Jenna Dubrow (23:49), and sophomores Anna Pavone (24:55) and Erin Casey (25:13).
Neither team was able to crack the top 10 of the 19 teams that competed in their respective races, but assistant coach Matt Jelley and his runners are satisfied with the group’s efforts.
“We had a couple kids that fell behind at some points, but they never let that get to them mentally in the race,” Jelley said. “Overall there were a lot of positive things, and some things we can definitely use to move forward.”
Fanz, who has quickly emerged as one of the team’s top athletes, gained immense experience from participating in the meet, something he is confident will help him in the future.
“I’m really happy with the way things turned out in the race,” Fanz said. “I really didn’t know what to expect because I [was] redshirted last year so this was my first cross country meet in college.”
“Now, I know what to expect when I run an 8K,” Fanz added. “That allows me to judge how I run my next races based off of this one, and I know how hard I can go out in the beginning without dying.”
Freshman Matthew Kacyon finished just a few seconds behind Kellar and Fanz. Jelley said Kacyon, and the rest of the first-time runners, performed up to expectations.
“Right off the bat, Kacyon was our third man on just his first time out,” Jelley said. “I thought that was fantastic, especially because on the freshmen level, it’s a lot different for them.”
“In high school, they’re running a 5K distance, and today he had to run 8K,” Jelley added. “That’s a big difference, and something they’re just not used to, cause they’ve never run that far before.”
Jelley also credits the work of Dubrow, Pavone and Casey on the women’s’ side. All three were also experiencing their first collegiate meet, with Dubrow being a freshman, and Pavone and Casey having been unable to participate last year due to injury.
For the women, that challenge entails facing a 1,000-meter difference in the length of the track from their high school days, a transition that, according to Jelley, is quite difficult to make.
Dubrow, whose 39th place finish was a team best at the event, was thrilled with the outcome of her first race.
“It was really just exciting for me,” Dubrow said. “I was really happy with my performance. I’m just getting my feet wet with this since this is my first 6K, but as my coach was saying, it was a pretty solid start to the season.”
The team’s next meet will be Sept. 30 when they will make the trip to Lehigh in Bethlehem, Pa. to participate in the Paul Short Invitational.
Entering that race, Jelley is hopeful the teams’ first meet is the starting point of something special for the cross country program going forward.
“Even though we’re young, the fact that we started out strong shows that not just for the rest of the season, but for the next couple of years, it looks like a very bright future for the Temple Owls,” Jelley said.
Avery Maehrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.