August 19, 2018 | ° F

Sophomore continues strong season, leads RU to 6K victory

Rutgers head women’s cross country coach James Robinson knew the hard work needed to do well in the Scarlet Knights’ first 6K race of the season.

He was also interested to see how his team would fare on a longer course.

“It was our first 6K of the season, so we were happy with the effort that they put forth,” Robinson said.

The Knights responded to the challenge last Saturday by capturing first place at the Connecticut College Invitational. The team posted 48 points and placed six runners in the top-20 finishers.

Coming off of her first individual win of the season at last week’s Metropolitan Championships, Brianna Deming continued her strong finishes for the Knights.

The sophomore finished second overall with a final time of 22:06. Junior Anjelica Brinkofski finished fourth with a finishing time of 22:24.

“I’m very happy with the way we are performing right now,” said Brinkofski, whose fourth-place finish marked her second top-10 finish of the season. “I’m really glad that we were able to stay closer together this race and it paid off.”

In all, six runners placed in the top 20 of competitors with eight finishing overall. Freshman Allison Payenski turned in her most impressive run of the season by placing 11th, and Victoria Pontecorvo’s time of 22:58 was good for 15th. Freshman Felicia O’Donnell, sophomores Ashley Deckert and Rashmi Singh and junior Kelly Flannigan also placed for the Knights.

“Our team is turning in a lot of personal bests,” Robinson said. “So we’re really happy with that.”

Plattsburgh State finished behind Rutgers in the 6K team race with 56 points, and third-place finisher Tufts recorded 64 points in the 17-team race. TCNJ finished fourth and Oneonta rounded out the top five.

Stephanie Braun of Plattsburgh State took home the women’s individual title with a finishing time of 21:45. Tufts senior Anya Price, who clocked in a time of 22:19, finished third, behind Deming. In all, 211 runners competed in the race.

The first-place finish as a team marks the final race before the Knights head to Louisville, Ky., to compete in the Big East Championships. With six fellow conference members ranked in the Top 25, Robinson knows his team needs to build on the momentum in order to put in a good performance.

“We have seven teams in the top 35 in the nation already, so it is going to be a difficult competition,” Robinson said. “With that being said, our main goal is to control what we can and to improve our overall team time from last year, and hopefully that will better our placing.”

For the Knights to achieve Robinson’s goals, the team looks for Deming and Brinkofski to lead the way and for the two runners to pace the team going forward.

“They are running great times and turning in personal bests almost every week it seems,” Robinson said. “So we are really happy with their progression and excited to see them perform.”

By Bradly Derechailo

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