Bowen and Eller Lead Team in Princeton Invitational

The men and women’s cross country teams fought hard in the annual Princeton Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 19 placing sixteenth and eleventh respectively. It was the fifth and final regular season meet for both squads, who now have officially completed their first season in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). The Hawks will build off of this final race to prepare for the championship meets ahead as the Invitational marked one of their tougher meets of the season,

With a total of 494 points, the men fell just shy of a top 15 finish, coming in 16th right behind Penn and Fordham. Villanova took first with 23 points, La Salle placed second with 94 points and Princeton finished third with 135 points.

Junior Khari Bowen was the first Hawk to cross the finish line for the men at 24:42, landing him in 34th place for the 8,000 meter course at West Windsor. Junior Alex Leight and senior Pat Ryan were the next to finish for MU at 25:10 and 25:26 respectively. Senior Anthony Branco and freshman Matt Nelson both finished in the 25th minute as well, rounding out the men’s top five. They, along with Bowen, Leight, and Ryan averaged 25:24 for the race.

The women finished 11th with 328 points, just 10 points shy of UMBC and a top ten finish. Duquesne placed first for the women’s side with 47 points, Columbia finished second with 90 points, and La Salle landed third with 144 points.

Senior Amanda Eller and freshman Lennon Cooper led the women, placing back-to-back in 34th and 35th. They were both clocked at 22:31 for the 6,000 meter course and averaged a 6:03 pace. Freshmen Jenna CuppKirsten Rodgers-Erickson, and sophomore Nina Poccia rounded out the women’s top five, all crossing the line during the 23rd minute. The top five finishers for the women averaged 23:00 for the difficult 6k course.

Although it appears that the Hawks had a tough break at this highly competitive invitational, the course and opponents will surely fuel them with motivation for the upcoming races. With the competition of their first regular season in their new conference, the men and women can now focus on the two final meets of their fall season. The second to last meet for the cross country team is the MAAC Championships on Friday, Nov. 1 at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, NY. With about two weeks to rest and prepare, MU cross country has a shot at winning their first MAAC Championship.

Following the MAAC Championship Meet is the NCAA Division I Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships. Both the men and the women have some very strong runners who have posted impressive times throughout the season. It will be very exciting to see if they can qualify for the NCAA Division I National Championship Race, held in Indiana on Saturday, Nov.23.