The men’s and women’s cross country teams hope to end their seasons on a high note this weekend, as they travel to the IC4A/ECAC Championships at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Coming off strong finishes last weekend at the NCAA Regional meet, both squads possess the confidence to post solid times.
“Our goal is to win the meet,” said men’s distance coach Robert Johnson.
Last year the men finished seventh at the event, but have since proven to be a more dominant team. Being that the race is held on the same weekend as the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., the teams traveling to nationals will not be competing in the event. The Red was fourth in the Northeast Region and will certainly be a contender for the title. This year, the team sends a young group to serve as a preview for next season.
The Red’s best competition should come from Duke, which placed fourth in the Southeast Region last weekend.
“I think that after last weekend, the guys are really confident that they will do well,” Johnson said.
The men will be led by junior Brad Baird, who has had a breakout season, recording personal best times. Baird missed qualifying for nationals by merely one spot last weekend.
“If Brad runs well, he will definitely be in the mix for the win,” Johnson said. “He is definitely at that level. He will be one of the top runners there.”
Earlier in the season, Baird ran an impressive 25:10 on the Van Cortlandt Park course, and hopes to improve to below 25 minutes. However, that time was over 30 seconds faster than his best.
Sophomores Sage Canaday and Jimmy Wyner, along with junior Ricky Lader will provide a solid 2-3-4 punch for the Red. Without senior captain Bruce Hyde running, freshmen Zach Hine and David Krause will have to move up to fill the final scoring position for the Red.
The women’s team will also look to end its already successful season well. Like the men, the women will send a surprisingly young team that has emerged over the season and has proven to be competitive despite a lack of collegiate experience.
“They have done a great job this season,” said head coach Lou Duesing. “We’ve been competitive with this group throughout the season and expect to continue to do so.”
Junior Nyam Kagwima and freshman Marie Parks will lead the way for the Red, as each has ran consistently well during the season. Parks was the top finisher for the women last weekend, placing 28th.
Freshmen Aeiral Emig, Katie Roll, and Danielle Schaub, along with juniors Toni-Lynn Salucci and Christy Paul will also factor into the team score. The five women have run in a tight pack all season, crossing the line within 18 seconds of one another last weekend.
“I expect them to treat this as a race opportunity – I just want people to go out and give it their best effort,” Duesing said.
Both young squads hope to see their times fall from their last races at Van Cortlandt, and look forward to the weekend providing more confidence to the 2006 season, as all the athletes competing will be returning.
“I think this year has really set ourselves up for success in the future,” Johnson said. “We have developed strong freshmen, sophomores, and juniors – their performances have shown they are a good team and will continue to improve into next season.”
Archived article by Erin Garry
Sun Staff Writer