November 15, 2002

Men Hope to Finish Strong After Letdown at Heptagonals

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The men’s cross country team would like to prove something at the NCAA Northeast Regional meet this weekend in Van Cortland Park.

What is the team’s goal this weekend?

“Redemption, mainly,” said men’s distance coach Robert Johnson.

“Everyone was disappointed with the way we performed at Heps,” he explained, and this weekend offers a chance to put up a good race and finish off the season on the right foot.

“This is an opportunity to show that as a distance program we have progressed,” Johnson elaborated.

The 10k course will cover relatively even, flat terrain.

Just like previous meets, the team will focus on running even splits, starting off slow and keeping it steady throughout the race and picking off opposing runners, said Johnson. That strategy should be particularly useful on this course, he noted.

“The longer race should benefit us as a team,” Johnson said.

That should give the Red a good chance for success.

“We need this meet to end the season on a high note,” said Johnson. “It’s important to set a tone for years to come.”

A solid performance would carry significant weight, especially coming at such a big meet.

The top two teams in the meet will automatically qualify for the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Ind. Eighteen teams will automatically qualify for the championships, and another 13 will receive at-large bids.

While it is unlikely the Red will qualify as a team, senior captain Dan Dombroski and sophomore Bruce Hyde both have a chance as individuals.

“A big thing about this meet is that Bruce and Dan put themselves in contention for a spot in the national championships,” said Johnson.

Seniors Barry Kahn and Geoff Van Fleet also look to make produce solid efforts in what could be their last cross country meet.

“Barry has really been motivated in the past two weeks,” Johnson said. Van Fleet has been struggling with the Achilles injury that kept him sidelined last year though. He has spent the better part of the last week resting.

“He’s a real question mark,” Johnson noted.

No. 6 Iona, No. 12 Providence, No. 23 Dartmouth and Columbia are favored to qualify for the championships.

“Those four are clearly the class of the field,” Johnson said.

At the same time though, he pointed out that the Red can still compete. The team has been ranked as high as sixth in the region and there’s still a race to run.

“I think the guys have rebounded nicely from our last meet,” Johnson concluded.

“Bruce and Dan are extremely excited for the meet,” he said; it’s every runner’s dream to compete at the national championships.

They’ll see what they can do this weekend.

Archived article by Matt James