Cross Country Holmdel

Strong Start to New Season for Cross Country

Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams have started the new season on the right track, with both teams finishing first in the Monmouth XC Kick-Off at Thompson Park on Sept. 3.

“I think that we saw the potential for a really great group,” Head Coach Joe Compagni said. “They executed the plan that we gave them for that day really well. We had them run together for a good chunk off the race so they did a good job of executing that. They showed that they can be a good group if we take care of things and keep doing the work that we have to do the rest of the fall.”

The men were led by senior Graham Huggins-Filozof, who placed first in the 6K run with a time of 19:17.42. Compagni feels that his runners prepare more for the season as a whole during the summer rather than have their sights set on the first race of the season, which benefits the team over the long run.

“(Assistant) Coach Chris Tarello and I are in touch with them all summer long and they’re all getting a training plan from us every couple weeks. For the most part, I would say that they’re good at following it as far as progressing with their mileage and starting to do some workouts, depending on what we want them to do,” Compagni said.

Sophomore Matt Farrell finished 15th at Thompson Park with a time of 20:11.40, and he talked about how he went about preparing for the season.

“Throughout the summer, we just trusted our training. We moved to heart rate training and it’s just about trusting that, getting our recovery and making sure that we are fresh for the rest of the week and fresh for meets on Saturdays,” Farrell said.

One of the key runners early on for the women has been freshman Taylor Rettig, who paced all runners at Thompson park with a time of 14:37.85 in her first collegiate race. She followed that up with a third place finish in the 5K at the Ed Joyce Fordham Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, NY on Sept. 10 with a time of 19:26.8. The blue and white finished second in the nine team event.

“It was a good test for us because we will be there at the end of the season for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) & Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) Championships. It was good for them to see that course,” Compagni said.

“It was also a good test because it’s a course with a lot of hills and it was a really hot day. We know that we are going to have to deal with whatever the conditions are. The more tests that we get early on, hopefully we will be better prepared later in the season.”

While it is impressive for a freshman to get off to that kind of start, Compagni feels that the amount of work an athlete puts in to prepare is what makes the biggest difference.

“On the women’s side, the race doesn’t really change too much. It’s really about the work that they do coming in,” Compagni said. “For the freshman, after the season gets going, it’s about getting used to the different training and different level of competition. But the race itself doesn’t change that much.”

Junior Allie Wilson, who finished ninth at Thompson Park with a time of 15:11.99, is one of many veteran runners for the Hawks this season that the younger runners look up to.

“The majority of our team is seniors and they have done a really good job. Even when I was a freshman, they have always been a big presence on the team and each year, more of us learn that role and really learn what the team is about and I feel that we have done a really good job so far of helping the freshman this year too,” Wilson said.

The men and women both placed first in the 22nd Annual Monmouth Invitational at Holmdel Park on Sept. 17. The men had seven out of the top nine finishers in the event, with freshman Ryan Rafferty finishing second overall. The women had 12 of the top 15 finishers, with junior Danielle Leavitt finishing third.

Both the men and women next run on Oct. 1 at the Paul Short Run at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.

PHOTO COURTESY of Tom Connelly