And they’re off!
Both cross country teams surged toward their first finish of the 2016 season during the Vassar Invitational meet on Sept. 1.
The women’s team finished first out of three teams with 26 points. On the men’s side, the Hawks earned 55 points to claim the runner-up spot out of a trio of teams which included Stevens Institute of Technology and host Vassar College.
Hawks head coach Mike Trunkes said both teams made strides during their season-opening meet. With five fourth-years on the men’s roster, Trunkes said having a veteran presence is a strength.
“Experience is big,” Trunkes said. “Mature, older runners tend to be better and stronger. They have more miles under their belt. They have a more well-developed aerobic system. And they have the experience of racing at the college level now, for three years…”
The Hawks 2016 women’s lineup includes 11 newcomers, who are “fearless” and “unintimidated” as a result of their lack of college experience thus far, Trunkes said.
“… I think that’s a good thing, and it’s an advantage in a way, because they just go into races free of that bias that arises from having experience,” Trunkes said. “They don’t know any different, so they just go out and run hard. That’s really all I want them to do. I don’t care who they’re running against. If they take that attitude going into these races then they could do really well.”
First-year Sherri Metcalfe placed second overall and was the first Hawk to complete the 3k course with a time of 11:16.3. Four other Hawks rounded out the top 10, including fourth-year Rebecca Verrone who took third (11:19.7). First-years Emily Cavanagh (11:32.4), Vanessa Morgan (11:39.9) and Amanda Engrassia (11:44.9) recorded fifth, seventh and ninth-place finishes, respectively.
For the men, third-year Stephen Smith crossed the 4k line first for the Hawks in 13:12.4. Following Smith was fourth-year Josh Korn who finished second for New Paltz and eighth overall (13:33.1).
The Hawks will next compete in the Ron Stonitsch Invitational at Vassar the morning of Sept. 10 where they will be going up against the reigning Div. III national champion women’s team from Williams College and nationally-ranked Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Additionally, the Hawks will face SUNY Plattsburgh during the Invitational, a rare conference matchup early on in the season. Trunkes said the meet will give the Hawks a better indication of where both the men’s and women’s teams will stack up against the Cardinals and sprinting forward into other SUNYAC competitions.
“[The Invitational] is going to be a much more competitive meet than it’s ever been before,” Trunkes said.