SUNY New Paltz Cross Country Men and Women’s teams look for a steady start to the season.
The Hawks cross country teams had a respectable outing at Vassar College’s Ron Stonitsch Invitational on Saturday.
The women’s team placed third of seven teams, earning 58 points behind Vassar College (33) and New York University, or NYU (43). The men’s team achieved 85 points, giving them a fourth place finish out of six teams behind NYU (39), Vassar (60) and SUNY Delhi (63).
“For a meet like this, my goal was for them to start to get used to a certain way of racing that not all of them are maybe used to,” said Head Coach Aislinn Ryan. “I gave them a plan that was scarier to some than others, and they did their best to execute it.”
The meet was also Ryan’s second ever meet leading the Hawks’ cross country teams.
“There’s a stereotype with runners that they’re all smart and kind, and they are, everyone on the team is just awesome,” Ryan said.
Third-year Cassandra Williams, recipient of the Third-Team All-State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) honors and SUNYAC Elite-20 award, placed third for the Hawks with a 5K time of 19:39.0, maintaining her level of performance after finishing sixth during the 3K event at the Vassar Season Opener on Aug. 30, clocking in at 12:20.1.
Fourth-year captain Matt Whitworth, school record holder of the 2K steeple and mile, placed third in his heat with a 6K time of 19:39.1, coincidentally only a tenth of a second more than Williams’ time. He previously placed second in the Vassar Season Opener’s 4K with a time of 12:58.0.
“I was just really happy for [Williams and Whitworth], I think that they both had races that gave them confidence for the rest of the season,” Ryan said. “Both of them saw that they were really fit and tough.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams saw freshmen faces place relatively high in the standings, with first-years Ripley Insalaco placing 29th and Tyler Feliciano placing 43rd for the women’s. The men’s first-years Ryan Carrick’s 38th and Carlos Vasquez’s 47th place finishes gave them valuable experience and confidence as they begin their college running careers.
“I encourage [the freshmen] to allow other people to take the lead,” Ryan said. “Many of our freshmen were the best on their[high school] team, then they come here and they have to get used to learning and following, but no complaints at all, they’re doing great.”
Despite the somewhat short season, Ryan wants her runners to gradually gear up for the more crucial races at the end of the season.
“Right now, we are definitely in a pretty intense block of training, but [runners] do well with those challenges and they’re stepping up to those, as well,” Ryan said. “I think everyone on the team is looking forward to SUNYAC.”
The cross country team returns to home soil on Saturday for the New Paltz Invite at 11 a.m.