Cross Country Bask in Success During 2015

The men’s and women’s cross country teams are once again enjoying successful seasons in 2015.

The teams are led by Joe Compagni, who is in his 21st year of coaching. Compagni took over the cross country program in 1995. He ran both cross country and track & field at the University of Delaware and served as the Blue Hens’ cross country captain during his senior year.

“I ran myself in high school and college,” Compagni said. “I enjoy both but cross country is unique because everybody is doing the same thing. You have a very close team and people who are really counting on each other and working towards a common goal.”

Before coming to West Long Branch, Compagni had an experience with the United States Olympic Training Center in 1989, where he worked with runners and cyclists over the summer.

Monmouth offered Compagni his first opportunity to coach at the Division I level. He has enjoyed being in charge of the program and sees a bright future ahead.

“Monmouth gave me an opportunity to come here. They were starting to grow as a university as well as the athletic department. It was a great opportunity for me to coach at the Division I level. We have had the same athletic director ever since I’ve been here. Dr. McNeil has always been supportive of cross country and track which has helped us grow. The school has done very well and continues to grow in the rankings. Once you have a tradition of success it’s easier for the folks who come in to want to take it to the next level,” Compagni said.

Both teams are coming off strong finishes at the MAAC championships, where the men finished fourth and the women finished third. They have the regional and IC4A championships to wrap up the season, which Compagni says has been historically successful.

“Based on performances and times, this has been either our very best group or close to our very best group ever. Ideally we want to win the MAAC championships and want to finish high at these championships coming up and that will be a good measuring stick for us. But based on what we’ve done so far, it’s been perhaps our best team ever.”

Junior Maggie Hanlon, who finished fourth on the Hawks and 21st overall with a time of 22:23.57, feels that the team has shown a great deal of improvement this season.

“The team has been improving this year more than any other year. Our team chemistry is so much better and our workouts have changed a little bit, but overall we’re just growing as a team,” Hanlon said.

Hanlon is one of nine juniors on the women’s team and they have been able to develop together over the years.

“The team is a junior based team, we had the biggest class to come in. (Coach) Joe did a good job of keeping the team together when it came to rooming. We are all friends which also helps the chemistry of the team.”

For the men’s team, senior Kevin French placed second for the Hawks and 26th overall with a time of 24:45.36. While the fourth place finish as a team was an improvement, French feels that the team could have done better.

“Finishing in fourth was short of our goal, but it was progress.” French said. “It was our best finish in the MAAC since we came in and it’s better than seventh which we got last year. We are getting better but it was kind of bitter too because second place was right there for us to take.”

Finishing second would have been a big accomplishment in conference for the men because MAAC opponent Iona, who finished first, is a top ten team in the country.

The team’s next compete in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships will be held on Friday, Nov. 13 at Windsor Fields in Princeton, NJ.