Cross country gears up for rest of season

Shanna McCarriston

Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics
Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

The women’s cross-country team exceeded expectations when the team placed first out of nine teams in Saturday’s Monmouth invitational.  Head coach Carolyn Martin’s main focus coming into the race was not on winning, but on getting a feel for the course and how the runners work as a team.

The race was held at Holmdel Park, the site of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship, so Martin felt it was crucial for her young team to get accustomed to the course.  The men’s course for the race was exactly the same as what it will be at the MAAC championship while the women’s course was not exactly the same but it was similar.

The transition from the NEC to the MAAC has been an exciting challenge according to Martin who likes the idea of being the underdog.

Martin has been with Quinnipiac for six years and with multiple NEC championships is used to winning.  She is confident with both teams but is not concerned with ranking in a race so early in the year.

“After this weekends meet we’ll really be able to see how everyone falls together,” Martin said. “It should be an exciting weekend to watch.”

It was indeed an exciting weekend, with five of Quinnipiac’s women’s runners placing in the top ten including sophomore Niahm Ashe who placed third overall with a race time of 18:41.4.

The women’s team has no seniors so the juniors have stepped up helping the freshman gain confidence for the races.  Ashe and junior Tracey Campbell said going into the race that the most important part of the Monmouth invitational is to get the newest team members confortable and confidant.  The race served as a transition and adjustment period.

“We have a very young team this year so I think that having confidence as an upperclassman is a good way to lead the team,” Campbell said.

In the short period the team has spent together this year Martin has already noticed the teammates are getting better on working together and getting on the same page.  She has been focusing on mental preparation and visualization as well as physical preparation for both teams.

Both teams performed well with the men’s team ranking fifth out of eight teams.  Junior Matthew Mensher ranked thirteenth overall in the race.

Mostly freshman ran the first two meets and Martin says she did not put too much emphasis on the results of those races. Martin wanted the freshman to get used to racing at a college level and adjust to the team.

Looking forward in the season both Martin and the players agree that Iona is the biggest competition.  Iona’s men’s cross-country team has won the MAAC championship 20 years in a row.  Martin says she’s playing for second place when it comes to the men’s MAAC championship and expects top three.

On Aug. 30 the men and women’s team placed third out of five teams at the Stony Brook invitational.  At the Bryant invitational the men’s team placed sixth out of eight teams and the women’s team placed fifth out of eight teams.  Martin has seen the team improve since these races and continues to see the improvement with the impressive performance at the Monmouth invitational.

Martin is focusing on keeping her team healthy this season and believes a healthy team is the key to success.