The New Paltz cross country teams have had excellent regular season showings. Both teams have been successful in competitive meets throughout the season. Coach Thomas Hartnett Jr. has led both the men’s and women’s rosters to success this season, as they placed high in meets and set new personal records.
“We have done very well this season, as seen in the number of personal best performances recorded by both squads,” commented Coach Hartnett. “Last season we had much larger gaps in finish times amongst our runners. There has been a lot of growth as runners which enables us to race smarter and perform well.”
Cross country is one of New Paltz’s three individual sports, along with swimming and tennis. Although they are running for their personal bests, their finishing times and places have a great impact on the teams’ placing for meets.
“They are in this together and understand that collective success is achieved by individual improvement,” said Harnett, regarding the teams’ chemistry, despite competing individually. “There is a great deal of self-ownership which is essential in competitive running. Achieving higher mileage [and] training goals requires athletes to run even on days we do not practice, which speaks to their dedication.”
They began the season competing in the Vassar Season Starter meet, with both teams placing fifth out of seven men’s teams and six women’s teams. They then traveled to the Oneonta Invitational, where both teams placed in the top three finishers for the meet. For their Green Out for Mental Health Awareness meet, the New Paltz Invitational, both teams took the top spot out of 13 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams. Both the men’s and women’s teams saw success in the Bard Invitations, placing fifth and sixth respectively, amongst teams such as St. Rose and Hunter. They were exceptionally triumphant, however, in the St. Joseph’s Invitational on Long Island. The men’s team placed second out of 26 teams, which included competitors such as Pace and Farmingdale State. The women’s team placed second out of 23 teams, including Molloy and Baruch.
When asked about standouts on the team, Harnett noted junior Oliver Melara-Perez as having “been a solid number one on the men’s team.” He also mentioned runners second-year Lilly Stephenson and third-year Marcella Candelin as leaders of the women’s team.
The Hawks will continue to see victories in the upcoming year, as their roster will remain generally the same. “We are not graduating anyone this year which means next year’s recruiting class will be joining a well-tuned team,” said Harnett.
With championships closely approaching, Harnett said he is looking forward to “new personal bests in the 6k and 8k,” and “seeing our athletes excel on championship caliber courses.”
The Hawks now enter the post-season, looking to place and win in the SUNYAC championships. They will travel north to Fortin Park in Oneonta to compete, getting off the start line at 11 a.m. From there, they will hopefully progress to the NCAA DIII Mideast Regional and then qualify for the NCAA championships in mid-November.