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Cross country looks into future at latest meet

by Zach Wagner - Copy Editor
Tue, Oct 8th 2019 03:00 pm
The women's cross country team starts a race at Roberts Wesleyan College in 2018. The cross country team sat its top runners out of the Highlander Invitational and allowed its younger runners a chance to compete against the top runners from other teams.
The women's cross country team starts a race at Roberts Wesleyan College in 2018. The cross country team sat its top runners out of the Highlander Invitational and allowed its younger runners a chance to compete against the top runners from other teams.

The College at Brockport men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Houghton College on Saturday, Oct. 5, for the Highlander Invitational. With the top runners on each side taking the week off, it was a good chance for the younger athletes to lead the pack for the Golden Eagles.

On the men’s side, the team placed ninth overall out of ten teams. Freshman Frank Derdzinki led the way, crossing the finish line with a time of 28:38, placing 59th out of 114 runners. Racing in the front for his team at the college level was a new experience for Derdzinki, but he embraced the new role and gave his best effort.

“It was a really different day knowing I would be leading the team,” Derdzinski said. “Getting hunted instead of being the hunter was a different experience at the collegiate level.”

For the rest of the men, freshman Robert Stevenson was right on Dredzinki’s heels, taking 60th with a time of 28:40.7. Senior Mike Young ran close behind the Brockport frontrunners, crossing the finish line eight seconds behind Stevenson in 65th place. Junior Mike Ripa and freshman Daniel Houck rounded out the top five for the Golden Eagles, finishing 76th and 84th, respectively.

With five of the top seven times being recorded by freshman, the Golden Eagles got a sneak peak of what their young core may be capable of in the future. Derdzinki has faith in the young nucleus of talent, hoping his teammates come together as a team and work further up the rankings race by race.

“In the future, I’m hoping the predominant freshman can run in a pack and work together toward the front of the race, maybe as soon as the end of this season,” Derdzinki said.

On the women’s side, the team went out and ran a respectable race, grabbing seventh out of 10 teams. Freshman Emma Mathes headed the pack for the gold and green, snagging 32nd place out of 107 runners. Senior Sydney Steger kept pace with her teammate, coming in one second behind Mathes, grabbing 33rd place.

Senior Megan McIntyre, junior Kortnie Demers and freshman Leah Bisgrove kept that solid teamwork going, demonstrating some pack running. McIntyre grabbed 57th, while Demers and Bisgrove took 62nd and 64th, rounding out the top five on the women’s side.

With the field wide open due to the top runners being out, the women did not know what to expect heading into Saturday’s competition. Their goal was to work as a group, aiming to run the best race possible.

“I was just working together with my teammates, it was a fun course, we had a lot of support out there,” Mathes said.

Heading into the future, Mathes and her fellow freshman teammates look to use this experience as a building block for the rest of their time as Golden Eagles. With more time to develop and grow, hard work and dedication seems to be the key ingredients for a winning formula.

“It helps you to push yourself to be the [top runner],” Mathes said. “We are going to work hard to get really good.”

As the men and women both start to transition into championship form, the top runners come back next week healthy and rested, looking to make some noise at St. Lawrence University. After that is the real test at Oberlin College for the pre-regional meet on Saturday, Oct. 19.

The strategy taken by the cross country clubs this season seems to be working out in its favor. After giving athletes some time to recover, while giving up and comers a chance to prove themselves, both sides are able to focus on the present and the future.  

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