Rutgers ready to compete at Metropolitan Championships this weekend
The Rutgers men's cross country team returns to action this Friday with a trip back to Van Cortlandt Park. While the Knights have ran here before and ran well, Van Cortlandt is a challenge, and the competition will be much more fierce.
After a week off Rutgers has to be ready for competition this weekend. From here on out it is the championship season. After the Metropolitan Cross Country Championships, the Knights have the Big Ten Championships, the Mid-Atlantic Championships, the NCAA Championships and lastly the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships. These are the only remaining meets for Rutgers this season.
Rutgers has visited Van Cortlandt Park once already this season. Fordham hosted its Invitational in early September, and the Knights were placed second out of five teams. Regardless of the overall result, it was crucial that Rutgers got experience on a course that they would visit later in the season.
“That is easily one of the toughest courses I’ve ever ran,” said sophomore Cole Pschunder.
The Van Cortlandt course has gained notoriety over the years as one of the toughest courses in the tri-state area. Not many other courses can instill fear and be recognized as easily as Van Cortlandt. The course begins in a wide open field that then funnels over two hundred runners onto a small and barely navigable path.
The trail is covered in old railroad ties that force unsuspecting runners to the ground further complicating an already chaotic scene. Van Cortlandt is a great test for the Knights. If they can impress here, they can gain confidence and momentum heading into the championship half of the season.
“I want to win the Metro Championship. I really believe if we can push the pack forward and get our top guys in there, and maybe Cole (Pschunder) can finish first, we can have a real shot at this thing” said freshman Patrick Walsh.
Walsh shares the same sentiments as his teammates. They know they're capable of winning this Friday. They have the strategy, the talent, the rest and the experience at Van Cortlandt to seal a victory for Rutgers.
The schedule only tightens up after Friday, so a good showing is needed here. The average time for this team last time they were at Van Cortlandt was 26:45. If the team wants to accomplish its goals and get a win here they will each need to knock at least a minute off their times.
It is easier said than done but the Knights have only been in four races this year. A balanced schedule of extra practice and rest could have them all geared up and ready to go in the Bronx. The team remains focused going into the meet. They are excited yet reserved. Rested and ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
“Our main goal right now is to win Mets,” Walsh said.
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