The men’s and women’s cross country squads will look to build on the success of last year after they both placed sixth at the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championships.
The women also went on to secure a top 15 spot in the NCAA Atlantic Regional championships while the men placed in the top 20.
“Our goals this season are to place top three at SUNYACs. We have a lot of our top seven returning and they look in better shape than ever,” fourth-year co-captain Katie Hempfling said. “Our other goal is to keep building and progressing throughout the season. We’re all really excited and motivated this year. We just want to beat as many jerseys as possible.”
The women’s team will see 11 incumbents, as well as taking on six fresh bodies, while the men’s side will have six returning runners and four newbies.
On the women’s side, Hempfling and fourth-year co-captain Monica Abrams will look to set the tone for the Hawks after finishing on a high note last season, registering times of 25:45.0 at SUNYACs and 24:24.2 in the regionals, respectively.
Two other key parts of their team are second-year Emily Cavanaugh and second-year Megan Reilly, who transferred in this season from Div. I Loyola Marymount.
Cavanaugh, who was last year’s SUNYAC Rookie of the Year, clocked a time of 21.57.6 in the regional championships, setting a new program record. She also became the fourth SUNY New Paltz female runner, and first freshman to earn All-Region honors.
Reilly had a big summer and is looking to translate her success into her time at New Paltz, after finishing 10th in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the 2017 United States of America Track & Field Junior Outdoor Championships.
We have collectively a really good group of young runners,” Hawks head coach Mike Trunkes said. “The team is still fairly young, we only have two seniors this year. It’s mostly sophomores and freshmen. But we have a solid base of sophomore females that now have a year of competitive collegiate running under their belt and know what to expect now. Now it’s just building on the confidence they gained over the past year to progress forward.”
On the men’s side, fourth-years Barrett Celecki and Stephen Smith as well as third-year Jack Wilson, look to continue their success from last season and set positive examples for the younger runners.
Celecki finished with a time of 27:17.4 at the regional championships in 2016 while Wilson clocked in at 27:12.5 at SUNYACs as the third harrier from New Paltz to finish.
“I’ve seen a strong commitment to running from the team so far. The team has put in the mileage during the summer in order to come into preseason strong and to continue into a successful season,” Celecki said. “The team’s goals are always the same: run faster than the year before and to place a spot or two higher in the SUNYAC and at least five places in the region.”
During the first meet of the season on Sept. 1 at Vassar College, the newest Hawk Megan Reilly finished first overall with a time of 11.3.4 leading the charge for the women in a third place finish as they earned 52 points.
For the men, Stephen Smith finished second overall (13.00.8) leading the Hawks to an 85 point finish. New York University took home first with 34 points.
The Hawks will be back at it again this weekend at the Vassar Invitational on Sept. 9 at 10 a.m. Following that, New Paltz will travel to UMass Dartmouth and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s invitational on Sept. 30.