Megan Reilly Leads Hawks in Historic Performance

Second-year Megan Reilly (pictured left) finished fourth overall at the SUNYAC Championship, while fellow second-year Emily Cavanagh (pictured right) finished 25th. Photo courtesy of sports information.

This past weekend at the Atlantic Regional Championship meet in Houghton, New York, the SUNY New Paltz women’s cross country team made program history by finishing 10th overall at the meet, which is the highest finish by a New Paltz cross country team at the regional meet. The men’s team also finished 25th in the same event.

The standout performance from the meet was by second-year Megan Reilly, who finished fourth overall with a time of 21 minutes, 50.5 seconds, which is a program record time for a six kilometer race. Reilly was happy with her result this past weekend.

“It felt great to finally run better than I have been all season,” Reilly said. “My season has been slow so far coming back from not running for a while and it was nice to see improvement in my racing from over the months.”

Reilly’s record-breaking performance qualified her for the NCAA Div. III Cross Country Championship, which will take place this Saturday, Nov. 18 in Elsah, Illinois. Reilly is the first New Paltz runner since Nichole Wischoff ‘13 competed in 2011 where Wischoff finished 103rd out of 277 participants. While Reilly is glad she qualified for nationals, she is more focused on the team’s future success.

“I would say that it is definitely a big accomplishment to be the second person to make it to nationals, but I think we will have a lot more people with the ability to make it in the upcoming seasons.”

Reilly does not feel any added nerves or pressure when it comes to competing in nationals.

“I am feeling pretty good about nationals, I don’t have too much pressure on me.  I am there to represent my team and that is what I will do.”

Finishing behind Reilly for the women’s team was second-year Emily Cavanagh, who finished 25th overall with a time of 22:46.7. According to head coach Mike Trunkes, Cavanagh missed qualifying for nationals by only nine seconds.

Trunkes was very satisfied with the overall performance of both the men’s and women’s teams at the regional meet.

“It was a solid performance overall by the ladies especially from Megan (Reilly) and Emily (Cavanagh) up front,” Trunkes said. “It was amazing to see Megan have a record-breaking performance.”

The men were led by fourth-year’s Stephen Smith and Barrett Celecki, who finished 92nd and 110th, respectively. Trunkes thought the team performed well all-around this past weekend.

“The boys finished out the season strong, I expected them to finish somewhere around 25th this past weekend, and they finished exactly 25th which was great to see,” Trunkes said. “We knew the season would be tough from the start for the men’s with Jack Smith getting injured, but the team battled and committed to competing as many runners met their individual goals.”

With the exception of Reilly competing in nationals, the season is finished for the men’s and women’s teams. Reilly was really content with how the fall season went for the team.

“The team has been improving non-stop this whole year. We had very hard courses and conditions this year, so there were not too many amazing time improvements,” Reilly said. “If the team has the capability to do better than they have in past seasons with horrible conditions, that means that we can do so much when the time is right.”