By Shanna O’Mara
The women’s cross-country team placed 14th out of 30 teams, a Rider best, at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional meet on Nov. 13, hosted by Princeton University.
Seniors Emily Ritter and Nicolette Mateescu led the team, placing 20th and 35th of 206 runners, respectively.
“Of course I had big goals coming into this cross-country season after coming off of a successful outdoor season,” Ritter said. “In the beginning of the season, I was very optimistic and excited to chase after my goals, but I ended up with an injury that resulted in a few setbacks.”
Ritter placed in an all-time high position for Rider, covering the 6,000-meter course in 21:31.9. She finished in 20th place, which earned her All-Region honors, becoming the first Rider female to earn this honor.
However, Head Coach Bob Hamer was still somewhat disappointed with the women’s group result.
“We were hoping for a better finish from the women,” Hamer said. “They finished 14th, which is the highest team finish ever, but we were only nine points out of 12th so it was a bit frustrating. Up front, we had some good races from Ritter and Mateescu.”
Although Mateescu finished in an impressive time of 21:58.4, she felt she could have performed better.
“I was honestly a little disappointed finishing in 35th place,” she said. “I really wanted to be in the top 25, but I understand how tough the competition is at this level.”
Other Rider women with noteworthy finishes included junior Megan McGarrity, who placed 78th in 22:52.3, and graduate Katie Kinkead, who was 112th in 23:24.6. Sophomore Alexandra Santora finished 146th in 24:10.6.
Although the top two women are nearing the end of their collegiate career, Hamer has hope that the younger runners can uphold the standard set by their veteran teammates.
“We have a lot of experience on the women’s side, and their performances have been the main reason for our success this year,” he said. “It is never easy to replace the athletes that are the best to ever come through the program like Ritter and Mateescu.”
The men’s team placed 19th of 25 teams. Sophomores Danniel Belay and Nick Kontos led the young team to success. Belay placed 88th of 167 runners, covering the 10,000 meter course in 32:49.4. Kontos finished in 32:58.1, placing 93rd.
“The goal I had for myself was to go out and race competitively at the meet and make sure I put myself in good scoring position for the team,” Belay said. “I felt like I did meet my goal by finishing in good scoring position.”
The men will compete at the IC4A meet on Nov. 21 at Van Cortlandt Park in New York. The women will also finish their season at the ECAC meet.
Because she will not be competing during the indoor and outdoor track seasons, Ritter is anticipating it to be the last meet of her collegiate career.
“I think the thing I’m really looking forward to as the ECAC meet approaches is having another opportunity to race with the Rider cross-country ladies and wear the Rider singlet one last time,” she said. “It’s a bittersweet moment just thinking about my collegiate career coming to an end.”