Both cross-country teams opened up their regular season on Tuesday, Sept. 1.
The New Paltz Men’s cross-country team won the inaugural three-team New Paltz Two-Miler, the first ever cross-country meet held at SUNY New Paltz.
Second-year Stephen Smith finished second overall, finishing with a time of 9:48.4. He was followed by second-year Nick Cruz, who finished in fourth place with a time of 9:49.5. Overall, the Hawks had five runners finish in the top 10.
“I think the team as a whole was very excited to be able to race on our own track and to have our [home crowd] cheering us on as well,” Cruz said. “A lot of guys finished with personal bests for the two-mile. Overall, I’m very proud of the guys for working hard to secure our first win of the season, and I’m looking forward to the many races we have left in the season.”
The Women’s cross-country team finished in third place. Second-year Kate Hempfling was the top finisher for the Hawks, placing third overall with a time of 11:46.9. Third-year Rebecca Verrone finished in ninth place with a time of 11:55.4.
“The race went really well,” Hempfling said. “I went in with a positive mind-set and had the support of a great group of girls. It’s a lot different having a core group of girls to train and race with, but I love it because we’re all really pushing each other.”
Head Coach Michael Trunkes said that he was pleased with both teams while noting areas for improvement.
“We usually prefer to start later in the month,” Trunkes said. “We have the Vassar Invitational this Saturday, so this race was like a workout for us. We have six races on the schedule, so we try to pace ourselves for the season.”
Trunkes said that he encouraged runners to pace themselves for the first six laps before letting his runners go all out for the last laps.
“I want them to establish consistent performance,” Trunkes said. “They should all be working together to help each other out in the race.”
The team hopes to improve after last year’s strong finish. The Women’s team finished fourth in the conference and the Men’s team finished fifth. In his 10 years as a coach at New Paltz, Trunkes said that this group of runners are some of his strongest yet, with serious potential for Regionals and even Nationals.
“There are some runners who could definitely compete for an at-large bid to Nationals,” Trunkes said. “The goal for this team is to grow into a top 10 power in Regionals.”
Runners on both teams echoed their Head Coach’s sentiments about the potential for the fall season.
“The team is looking really good,” Hempfling said. “There’s so much talent on the team, but most importantly we are all there for each other. We’re a team that’s going to build each other up and support one another. I’m super excited to continue to train and race with the team.”