The cross-country team competed in its third race of the season against top-notch schools in the Paul Short Invitational last weekend in Bethlehem, Pa.
The men’s team placed 37th out of 45 teams and the women’s team placed 33rd out of 43 teams.
While on paper the results may not look very successful, Head Coach Bob Hamer was thrilled with the women’s performance.
“The women’s team ran outstanding,” he said. “They executed the race plan and really focused and ran aggressively over the second half of the race. The results will give the team confidence heading into the second half of the season.”
The men’s performance, however, was not as pleasing to the first-year head coach.
“The men ran a decent race, but we still have some work to do,” said Hamer. “I am confident that we have made progress and we will be where we need to be shortly.”
A few familiar faces led the pack for both teams at the meet.
For the women, freshman Heather Giovagnoli placed first among Rider runners once again. She placed 115th overall among the 300 runners while setting a Rider record of 22:24 on the 6,000-meter course. It was Giovagnoli’s third time finishing first for the Broncs in as many races.
Senior Kelly Wojciehowski finished second for the Rider women, coming in 159th with a time of 22:51, and senior Megan Crowe was 171st, coming in third for the Broncs with a time of 23:01. Junior Kelsey Kohler rounded out the success of the upperclassmen, claiming 218th with a time of 23:27.
The men’s team was led by an incredible performance that was almost expected of Christian Gonzalez by this point in the season. The sophomore continues to create lofty expectations for himself and to perform at a greater level. Gonzalez, who was honored with Rider’s Athlete of the Month award for September, placed 49th overall among the 298 runners with a time of 24:43 over the 8,000-meter course. His time set a new Rider record for the course by 50 seconds.
Senior Matt Dahl finished second among the Rider men with a time of 26:01, putting him in 186th for the race, and sophomore Michael Soroko was third, claiming 224th with a time of 26:35.
Villanova won the women’s race while Wisconsin won the men’s race.
The Broncs placed ahead of Canisius and Niagara in the MAAC while also claiming victor over Lafayette, Monmouth, Colgate, Saint Joseph’s, Pittsburgh, Temple and Saint Bonaventure at the invite.
It appears that the top runners for each team have established themselves in those spots, leaving an opening for others to step up. Hamer believes the women’s team has already done so.
“Each of the women have stepped up in each race,” he said. “Giovagnoli has been the top finisher, but the other team members have competed fabulously and have made strong contributions to the team.”
The men’s team, however, has some room for improvement, he said.
“The men’s team will definitely need to step up if we want to achieve the goals we have for the season.” said Hamer. “Gonzalez has run great; we just need the rest of the team to run to their ability and we will be fine.”
Of course, there is also a huge upside to having the team’s most successful runners be underclassmen. With Gonzalez a sophomore and Giovagnoli only a freshman, the future of the team looks very bright.
“They are talented and committed runners who strive really hard to be successful,” Hamer said. “I expect them to be great and they are doing a great job of meeting those expectations.”
Next up for the team is the Penn State National Invite on Oct. 17.