By Victoria Lyons
The cross country teams kick off the MAAC Championships today at Van Cortlandt Park, hosted by Manhattan, with both the men and women setting their sights on finishing in the top three.
To have a chance at a top spot, the women will have to defeat strong teams such as Loyola (Md.) and Marist, according to Head Coach Bob Hamer.
“It will be very difficult, but I’m hopeful that we will race at a very high level,” he said. “We have a very solid group this year and we are hopeful that we can race at the top of our potential and earn a great team result.”
The men will have to fight off the Iona Gaels, who are currently ranked nationally in the top 10.
Freshman Anthony Dentino has been the top finisher on the men’s side this season, winning his first collegiate race at the TCNJ Blue/Gold Classic, completing the 5K course in 15:55.9.
“Anthony is having a great freshman season and his goal is to finish in the top 15,” Hamer said. “It will be his first MAAC Championship, so there is a bit of unfamiliarity, but I am confident that he will do very well.”
As for the women, senior Heather Giovagnoli has been the leader, finishing first in the Blue/Gold Classic with a time of 18:58.
“Heather is very experienced and she has a great chance of finishing in the top 10 and earning All MAAC honors,” Hamer said. “I’m very pleased with her training and if she has the race that she is ready to run, she will do very well.”
Last year’s tournament finished with the men placing third and the women finishing seventh. Iona finished first in both the men’s and women’s events.
“Iona is definitely the favorite on the team and individual side,” said Hamer. “It will be very challenging for us to improve on the men’s top three finish from last year but that is our goal. The women are a much better team this year and we have a goal of finishing in the top three.”
Senior Michael Lindner, juniors Sean Donohue and Meg Elgin are other runners that have also done well for the Broncs in previous races this season.
Lindner finished 64th among the 189 runners at the Penn State National Invite, and first overall for the Broncs, in the 5.2-mile course.
“Mike Lindner and Sean Donohue are having very strong seasons for us and both have the capability to place in the top 15,” Hamer said.
Elgin placed 20th out of the 117 runners at the Fordham Fiasco, covering the 3.1 mile course in 19:02.38.
“Meg Elgin is returning from injury and she will be a nice addition to our lineup,” Hamer said.
Both teams are healthy and fit right now and expectations are high coming into the MAAC Championships.
“I am very excited for the meet,” Hamer said. “We have raced well this year but we still have not put together that perfect complete race. That is the main goal for Friday.”