Knights conquer course at Holmdel
Rutgers head women’s cross-country coach James Robinson knew what challenges Holmdel Park presented this year to his team.
“Holmdel Park is like the measuring stick for every cross-country team,” Robinson said. “It’s a very challenging course.”
The Scarlet Knights responded to the challenge by finishing second overall in this weekend’s Monmouth Invitational. With a final score of 71 points, the Knights placed six runners in the top 25 of competitors and eight overall.
Sophomore Brianna Deming and junior Anjelica Brinkofski, who placed eighth and 11th respectively, led the way. Brinkofski’s finishing time of 18:51.0 impressed Robinson, who said six of the eight girls who placed finished with personal bests for the course.
“[Brinkofski] put in a good summer’s worth of training,” Robinson said. “She looks really good in the early stages, thus far. We hope that she can continue this success as the season progresses.”
Her feat was even more impressive given the fact that Brinkofski did not feel 100 percent during the course of the race.
“I was feeling a little bit under the weather, but I still had a 40-second improvement from last year,” Brinkofski said. “I felt really well about it.”
Juniors Victoria Pontecorvo and Lindsay Bertulis, sophomores Rashmi Singh, Ashley Deckert and Darina Dinov, and freshmen Allison Payneski and Felicia O’Donnell also placed for Rutgers.
Quinnipiac took the women’s team title in the 5K race with a score of 43 points. Host team Monmouth finished with 93 points, one spot behind Rutgers.
Sacred Heart followed in fourth, with East Stroudsburg finishing fifth. Robert Morris, Wagner, Mount St. Mary’s, Central Connecticut State and Bryant rounded out the top 10.
East Stroudsburg’s Rosie Mascoli won the women’s individual 5K race with a time of 18:45.1, with Brittany Heninger placing second with a time of 18:21.6. Monmouth’s Jennifer Nelson finished third with a final time of 18:23.9.
Robinson was most impressed with how his runners approached the course after Rutgers’ strong finish in just its second race of the season.
The Knights now have off from competition until Oct. 7, when they travel to the Bronx for the Metropolitan Championships.
“They did a great job of controlling their pace. Between the first and second mile they ran faster, and as the race went on, they continued to pace themselves,” Robinson said. “We were looking for them to be more aggressive this race, so it was good to see that. We hope they will continue to improve on their race tactics as the season goes on.”