The men and women’s cross country teams competed in the Connecticut College Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 18, in the final event of their regular season.
The men’s team placed fifth overall out of 18 teams competing, averaging 26:45 on the 8K course. Fourth-year Co-captains Mike Scher and Dave Lukas both earned spots in the top 10 to finish the race out of 212 runners. Scher placed fourth with a time of 25:54, while Lukas took ninth place with 26:06.
Scher and Lukas propelled through this meet, Head Coach Mike Trunkes said, which will lead the men’s team to a good position for the upcoming championship season.
“[Scher and Lukas] did a really good job and helped the guys put out a really strong performance for us,” Trunkes said. “They ran extraordinarily well at that meet against some really top-notch competition– NYU is one of the top teams in the country. Their performances hopefully will set them up for an amazing finish for the season.”
Later that day, the women’s team took seventh place of 19 teams racing with an average 23:43 on the 6K course. The first Hawk to cross the finish line was fourth-year Gabby Mancuso, who placed 12th at 23:00. Next to finish for New Paltz was teammate fourth-year Maggie Verspoor at 23:18.67 for 20th place.
“I thought the girls took a little more conservative approach to this race,” Trunkes said. “We just wanted to try something slightly different in terms of how to approach the first half of the race, trying to split the difference of being overly aggressive and not aggressive enough. I wasn’t so concerned about the end result as much as how they approached the race and raced in the race just from a tactical standpoint, because it isn’t really relevant to the end of the season.”
Although the women’s team didn’t all finish in ideal times this weekend, Mancuso said, this race showed her how much the team can work as a unit and push effort to the max collectively as they enter the championship season. Running in packs and sticking together during tough workouts is necessary for keeping the entire team motivated, she said.
“We are encouraging each other to keep a positive mindset both in practice and in our private endeavors,” she said. “It’s not often you get a group of girls especially that actively do this for each other–[we] have developed great friendships which is what makes reaching our goals as a team all the more worth it as we conquer these last few races.”
Since this was the final tuneup event of the regular season for both teams, they are now working to prepare for SUNYAC Championships at Brockport. It is easy to run out of fuel by this point of the season, Trunkes said, so the teams are focusing on more of a limited mileage approach to limit the risk of fatigue or injury.
“We’re backing off [of mileage] for both the men and the women’s training volume to give ourselves a little bit of time to recover and to feel a little more rested for the conference meet,” Trunkes said.
For the top runners on the men’s team, this means cutting back from 90-100 miles per week to around 80-85, Lukas said.
“Our team is now making the transition into championship season which means cutting back on weekly milage and fine tuning our bodies to realize their peak potential on one specific race day,” he said. “This mileage reduction combined with the cooler November weather should give us the boost needed to fulfill the goals we’ve been training to achieve since early June. I think I speak for much of the team when I say our final regular season race this past weekend at Connecticut College is serving as a positive influence on morale as we enter championship season.”
Looking forward, Trunkes said that both teams are at a good place going into championships and that he is looking forward to seeing great race performance from the Hawks.
“They’re feeling confident that they can run better, and that’s the most important thing,” he said. “They’re all really fit and well-trained, its just a matter of them feeling confident going into the last few weeks, so that we can put together a really good performance for both of the championship races.”