Cross Country Dominates Race

Earns First and Second in MU’s 19th Annual Invitational

cross_countryThe University’s men and women cross country teams placed first and second respectively at the 19th Annual Monmouth Invitational on Saturday. The meet took place at MU’s home venue, Holmdel Park in Holmdel, NJ.

Holmdel is known by runners as one of the most difficult courses in the state due to the hills included in the race. As it acts as the Hawks home cross country track, the teams were fully prepared for the battle.

Totaling 41 points, the men were able to edge out Rider University, who totaled 42 points, for their first win at the meet since 2006. Junior Khari Bowen was the first Hawk to cross the finish line for the men, placing second overall with a school record time of 26:20.70 for the five mile race.

“Khari still competed despite being sick all week,” said head coach Joe Compagni. “It was his first race since March and he broke a school record. That is a tremendous start for him and I’m excited to see what he can do when he is at 100 percent.”

Junior Alex Leight was not far behind Bowen, placing fifth overall with a time of 26:56.31. Sophomore Domenick D’Agostino, senior Anthony Branco, and junior Tommy Darlington all finished in the top 15 to round out the men’s top five. The top five for the men posted a 27:06 average for the race.

With the win, the men’s cross country team moved into the top-15 in the Mid-Atlantic region as they rank 14th in the region. This was announced on Monday, September 23 by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Assocation (USTFCCCA). MU is one of three New Jersey schools ranked and one of three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) schools ranked.

The women also performed valiantly at the meet, but the team just missed a first place victory with 41 points. Freshman Lennon Cooper led the women, placing fourth overall and finishing the 5K course in a freshman record time of 19:18.31.

Right behind Cooper was senior Amanda Eller, who placed fifth with a time of 19:31.51. Freshmen Jenna Cupp, Kristen Rodgers-Erickson, and sophomore Nina Poccia rounded out the women’s top five. Seven MU runners finished in the top 15 overall for the day. The women’s average for the 5K course was 19:40.

Compagni was delighted by the women’s effort, especially from his younger runners.

“We had two freshmen, Lennon Cooper and Jenna Cupp, run under the freshman record time for the 5K at Holmdel Park,” Compagni said. “This year I have one of the best groups of new freshmen women’s distance runners, and I am really excited to work with such a young, talented group,” he said.

As the men and women progress into the most important part of their seasons, both teams are looking to keep improving due to both their training and getting some of their key runners back.

“During September, we are focusing on training more than racing,” said Compagni. “In October and November the meets are much more important so we will put our best runners on the line.”

Both the men and the women will compete in the Paul Short Run which takes place on Saturday, October 5 at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. The men’s race will start at 12:15 pm while the women have a 1 pm start time.