Both the men’s and women’s cross-country teams came away with victories at the 2nd Annual Henry Mercer Monmouth Invitational on Saturday morning at Holmdel Park, a meet that both teams have won on numerous occasions in their history.
The men began the morning by dominating a five-mile run. Leading the way were seniors Ryan Mitchell and Kyle Mueller, who finished first and second respectively. A half of a second was all that separated the two as Mitchell finished with a time of 27:02.80 and Mueller with a time of 27:03.10. The victory for Mitchell was the first of his collegiate career.
Sophomore Tim Euler came in third place overall and freshman Louis DiLaurenzio finished behind him to round out not only what was the Hawks’ top four racers, but the top four participants in the meet.
Historically, the men have dominated this home invitational. It was their 14th victory all-time at Saturday’s meet and fifth in the last six years.
The course features a hilly terrain designed to challenge participants. Head Coach Joe Compagni was pleased with the way his runners handled the level of precision that the course calls for. “The men did a nice job of running under control and being decisive today,” he said.
Following the men’s five-mile run was the women’s 5K. The Blue and White were led by graduate student Christiana Rutkowski, who won her third 5K of the season on Saturday. She finished with a time of 19:04.87.
Not far behind Rutkowski was junior Dayna Luma who clocked in with a time of 19:54.30, finishing in second place overall.
Sophomores Melanie Pfennig and Alyssa Repsher came in fourth and fifth place respectively for the Hawks, which rounded out the top five overall participants in the meet.
Compagni said, “The women know they need to stick closer together, but [they] had some very good individual efforts.” Monmouth participants claimed four of the top five places in the women’s meet and finished with eight of the top ten spots as well.
The 2nd Annual Henry Mercer Monmouth Invitational was a memorable one for the Hawks. Henry D. Mercer, III, a graduate of Monmouth’s class of 1987, was honored and spoke in front of those in attendance at the meet.
Mercer was elected to the Monmouth University Board of Trustees in 2011 and served as Chairman of the Board from 2014 to 2017. He also serves as the Co-Coach for the Rumson-Fair Haven High School Cross Country teams, a position he has held for 11 years. Mercer has additionally had the honor of being named a Coach of the Year by the Asbury Park Press and the Star Ledger.
The victories at Holmdel Park come as no surprise to the Hawks. Both the men’s and women’s cross-country teams have enjoyed successful seasons up to this point.
The men placed second out of six schools and the women placed third out of six to open the season on Sept. 1 in Lincroft. On Sept. 8, the men were victorious at the Siena College Invitational in Albany, NY while the women placed fourth out of nine.
“Holmdel Park is a great test and a big strength builder,” Compagni said. “We are looking forward to the bigger meets ahead.”
This Saturday, the Hawks will hit the road to participate in the Paul Short Run at Lehigh University. The men’s race will start at 9:30 a.m. and the women’s race will follow at 10:15 a.m.
PHOTO COURTESY of Tom Connelly