The Drew University men’s and women’s cross country teams were ready to compete against some of the best teams from the Eastern College Athletic Conference on Saturday afternoon. The ECAC Division III Championships was no easy task for the Rangers.
Junior runner Anatole (Tony) Colbert (‘19) from the men’s team mentioned after his solid race on Saturday, the most important part of any race is to “trust your training. There are a lot of points throughout the race where you feel like stopping or slowing down, but we know what we put ourselves through every week and how hard we need to push ourselves to prepare for the races.”
The last few months of the season leading to the championship races were an important time for the Rangers to push themselves to prepare for their race at the Hudson Valley Sports Dome last Saturday. None of the Drew runners had an easy path to take if they wanted to finish near the top of the ECACs, but anything was possible due to their strong work ethic and continual preparation.
After the race, last Saturday, Christian Parenti (‘19), and Lisa Rojas (‘18) emphasized how tough they felt this course was going to be. Parenti mentioned how the course at the Hudson Valley Sports Dome was the hardest track they ran at since an early season race at Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA. Parenti said, “I had to use other runners to pace myself all afternoon, and I had to make sure I kept strong footing with the track as I ran. By the time I got to the end of the race,” he continued saying, “I used the other runners to help push myself and make a surge leading up to the finish line.”
The Rangers Head Coach Zach Mower helped to motivate their runners prior to going out for a race. Colbert said, “Our coach always tells us to believe in that next step, whether it be beating another teammate or going for a personal record, you have to believe it.”
The Rangers had to believe they could compete with some of the best runners in the ECAC Championships which was their “next step.”
Parenti had the best finish for the men’s team as he ran for 8,000 meters in 29:33.8 seconds to place 32nd overall. That was by far the best performance for the men’s team, although Nick Smale wasn’t far behind as he set a personal record for his fastest eight kilometer race of the year. Smale finished 50th overall in 32:21.4 seconds.
Mollie Ankram (‘21) and Violet Kimball (‘21) paced the women’s team as they both finished in the top 30 runners overall on the women’s side. Ankram finished in 24th place with a time of 28:28.4, and Kimble finished fast enough for 34th place in 30:34.9 seconds. For the men’s team, standout runner Parenti helped collect a total of 54 points for his team and completed the first mile of the race in a thrilling five minutes and thirty seconds.
Parenti mentioned how much they had worked all season to get to where they are now. “The week of training we had leading up to the ECACs was very tough but one of the most important weeks of the season.” His teammate and Colbert said, “A huge part of running is your ability to stay mentally focused and the ECAC course made it pretty tough to get into a groove, so I think running this course was a good course to prepare us for the flatter regional course.” Parenti and the rest of the Rangers believe their hard work will certainly pay off in the NCAA Atlantic Regionals.
Rojas knew how important the ECACs were as it was one of the final races in her last season as a Ranger. Rojas continued her solid season as the ending to her college career, taking 27th place in 29:10.9 seconds. After the race, Rojas said, “It was definitely one of the hardest courses we encountered all season, but our team took it on very well. We ended up running much better than expected and this was seen as a positive moment on the season.”
The men’s team ended the day at number 11 out of 12 other men’s teams from the ECAC and the women finished in 6th place out of 7 teams overall.
Although it was obvious the Drew cross country teams were outmatched at points last weekend, they showed fight and resiliency while running one of the hardest courses of their season. Neither the men nor the women lost hope in their ability to compete with some of the best runners they faced the entire season.
Overall, Rangers Head Coach Zach Mower was pleased by his team’s performances the ECAC Division III Championships. This annual ECAC Division III Championships provided great preparation for the Rangers final race of the year.
The cross country season has slowly come close to an end. The runners for Drew want to extend their seasons as they will look to advance on to the NCAA Regionals on Saturday, November 11 in Houghton, NY.