Monmouth XC Makes Top Ten in Two Consecutive Races

The Monmouth University’s men’s and women’s cross coun­try team began their season with high hopes and so far they have been answered. Competing in two races thus far, both the men and women have secured spots in the top five.

“I think with cross country, a big part of improving is looking at what kind of work the runners did in the summer,” Head Coach Joe Compagni said of his team’s success. “If they did their work in the summer, that can give them a chance to start off very well and that’s what we hope for. We have this mix of some great veterans like Amanda Eller and others and some freshmen who are making an impact right away.”

The team began their season on August 31 as they hosted the 10th annual Monmouth XC Kick-Off at Thompson Park in Lincroft, NJ. With six colleges in the contest, the women were assigned to the 4k while the men raced in the 6k.

Amanda Eller finished in first for the overall race, making this the third consecutive year she has placed in the top ten for the 4k women’s race at the Monmouth XC Kick-Off event. Five other teammates joined her in the top ten for women, all of which were freshmen.

“Bringing in a strong freshmen class was definitely a focus for us,” Compagni said of his young runners success thus far. “We want to do that in every area but especially on the women’s side.”

Senior captain Anthony Bran­co led the race for Monmouth’s men at the XC Kick-Off race as he took eighth place at the event as he crossed at 19:47.70. Close behind was junior Tommy Dar­lington who placed ninth over­all at 19:52.20 while junior Alex Leight took twelfth with a time of 19:57.5. Freshman Matt Nel­son came in 20th at 20:14.5. Rounding out MU’s top five men was sophomore Domenick D’Agostino who placed 23rd fin­ishing at 20:19.70.

“Our top five men from last year are back which is good be­cause they were freshmen and sophomores. Last year a group was young, there were two soph­omores and three freshmen. Now their next objective is to use that experience and be stronger,” Compagni said.

With a six day rest period, the men’s and women’s cross coun­try team were prepared for the Fordham Invitational at Van Cor­tlandt Park in Bronx, NY. At the event, the women raced the 5k while the men competed in the five mile.

Leading the women’s side for the second consecutive week was Eller. Crossing the finish line at 18:49:81, Eller took home third place overall with an average mile of 6:03.70. Freshman Len­non Cooper was the next MU female to cross the finish line at 19:27.53. Cooper secured her second top ten victory as she fin­ished in eighth place.

Freshman Jenna Cupp was the third Hawk to finish the 5k with a 19:32.39 timing earning herself twelfth overall. Freshmen Kris­ten Rodgers-Ericksen placed 21st overall at 20:02.77 and was the fourth MU woman to complete the course. Concluding MU’s top five women was freshmen Ra­chael Baker crossing at 20:06.21 and finishing 24th overall.

“She [Cooper] was second on the team Amanda both weeks to Amanda, but she is not the only freshmen who was right there,” Compagni said. “In the Kick- Off meet, they [freshmen] were first and second to each other and running with each other the whole way.”

Darlington led the men in the Fordham Invitational as he was the first to finish for Monmouth for the first time in his three year collegiate career. Overall, Darlington placed 34th and fin­ished crossing the finish line at 27:40.80. Darlington averaged a 5:32.20 mile in the race.

Following his lead was Bronco who crossed the line at 27:43.52 and took 35th place. Directly behind Bronco was junior team­mate Andrew Langille who took 36th place and finished at 27:45.75. Coming in fourth for MU and 39th overall was Nelson with a time of 28:04.54. Capping the Hawks top five was senior Pat Ryan placing 40th overall at 28:14.44.

The women placed second to Fordham in the overall race and the men placed fifth overall.

The team will next run at the 19th Annual Monmouth Invita­tional at Holmdel Park in Hol­mdel, NJ on September 21. This meet marks the last home event of the season for the cross coun­try team and will begin at 10 am.

PHOTO COURTESY of MU Photography