Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams have been on a tear since the end of September after bottoming out in the first two meets of the season.
Going into his second year as the leader of both the cross country and track programs, Head Coach Greg Welch presumably has had a lot on his plate. This is made even more true when you consider the men’s cross country team lost all but one runner from last year. Understandably, the men’s team struggled heavily in the first two meets on the year, finishing 10th out of 14 in their first meet and 11th out of 13 in their second. The women’s team did a little better, finishing sixth and 10th, respectively. No matter how much training and preparation an athlete or an entire team does, nothing will be beat proven-and-tested chemistry, so these first two meets were almost a feeling-out period.
They ran with it from there.
After a fifteen day break, both teams went into the MSMC Knight Invite in Newburgh and dominated. The men’s team finished fourth out of 19 teams while the women’s team finished third out of 15 teams. This was the highest overall finish in a meet since 2014 on the men’s side and 2021 on the women’s side, according to past recaps on the athletic department’s website. So, how do you follow that up?
By doing it again.
A week after the MSMC Knight Invite, at the Queensborough Invitational, the men’s team once again placed fourth — out of 20 teams — with the women earning bronze, placing third out of 16. It was here that it was cemented who the top two runners are on both squads, as both sophomore Rachel Mow and freshman Daniel DeGregori paced both of their respective heats for a fourth straight time.
Both Mow and DeGregori have been the stars on their respective teams, and are two of the three runners from either team to earn weekly awards from the East Coast Conference (ECC). Mow has three weekly honor roll selections to go alongside a Women’s Runner of the Week selection in Week 5. DeGregori also has three honor roll selections to pair with a Men’s Rookie of the Week nomination in Week 2. Both runners have been a member of the weekly ECC award announcements since September 18th.
However, it’s not just those two stars carrying the entire team — cross country is a team sport that requires multiple runners’ finishes to count towards a team’s final score.
At the same Queensborough Invitational, sophomore Madelyn McMath finished with a career-high time of 26:26.3 in the 5k, placing 30th in a field of 132 runners. This landed her on the honor roll sheet for Week 5. McMath would again beat her personal record a week later at the NJIT Highlander XC Challenge, however, she wasn’t the only runner who ran a new personal record that day.
Senior Natalia Cuttler recorded a career-best time of 21:23.0 to finish second for the Knights, while junior Abdi Mohamed completed the course in 28:57.1 to record a new personal record, finishing second for the Knights on the men’s side. Others who ran personal bests that meet were DeGregori, sophomore Ashley Rodriguez Perez, junior Peter Hoffmann, senior Paulo Criollo, and junior Kyle Daniels.
At the time of publication of this article, Coach Welch and both his squads will have ran at another meet in Kings Park this past Saturday. However, after that, they only have the ECC Championship left to run this Saturday. With the upward trajectory this program has been on thus far, it would not be surprising to see them finish higher than the fifth place finish they were predicted by the rest of the conference to finish at in the preseason.