Rutgers finishes fourth at Rider Invitational
After a seventh-place finish at the Spiked Shoe Invitational, the Rutgers men’s cross country team looked to come away with more at the Rider Invitational on Friday. And come away with more it did.
Despite missing one of its top runners, the Scarlet Knights finished fourth overall at the 8k race in Pennington, New Jersey, with a team total of 101 points. They produced three top 15 finishers, including one in the top 10.
Siena won the competition, followed by Marist in second and TCNJ in third.
At their previous invitational, the Knights had a time differential of more than a minute, and head coach Mike Mulqueen wanted to decrease that time at this meet.
“Our goal was to get our time differential down, and we did that well,” Mulqueen said.
Dominick Munson was the best finisher for Rutgers. Last week, the sophomore said he had the potential to win the race or at least finish in the top five, and he came very close to fulfilling this goal, finishing in sixth with a time of 24:57.07.
“I was pretty happy about my performance,” he said. “I was just trying to get myself up in the race, and I knew that if I hung with the pack, I could finish in the top ten. I was particularly happy with how the last half of my race went. I thought I ran my last 4,000 meters pretty well and was able to pick up a couple spots. It definitely felt better than last week. Penn State was a little bit harder and longer, so this course felt a lot better.”
While he did come up just short of his top-five goal, he also said that in every race there’s disappointment, and he was happy with his top ten finish, especially so early in the season.
“I’ve learned a lot from these two races, and I hope to keep learning through the championship season,” he said.
Junior Luke Wiley was the second man for the Knights, finishing in 12th place with a time of 25:09.54, improving on his 49th-place finish last week.
Not too far behind him was senior Nicholas Price, who finished in 14th place with a time 25:11.95, 22 spots up from his placement last week.
Rutgers had one more finisher in the top fifty, as junior Trent Brinkofski finished in 25th with a time of 25:23.10. Rounding out the team was junior Alexander Livernois in 57th, freshman Andrew Comito in 67th, freshman Jason Schweizer in 102nd, and sophomore Ryan Gross in 119th.
A notable absence from the final results was Conor Murphy. The sophomore, who was the top finisher for the Knights at last week’s meet, had to pull out of the race. One mile in, he was stepped on and his shoe fell off, forcing him to exit the competition.
“A good portion of the race was on gravel,” Mulqueen said. “Since it was a small race early in the season, he did the right thing and stopped. He could have injured himself.”
Munson pointed out that Murphy would definitely have helped Rutgers finish higher.
“He’s our top guy, so I think we would have been able to finish higher than fourth if he was with us in the race,” he said.
The Knights do not have a meet this coming week, which means that there are two weeks before they return to action at the Metropolitan Championships in the Bronx on Oct. 1. This gives them a lot of time to train and continue to bring down their time differential among their top 7, although Mulqueen said that there isn’t much to improve.
“We're using the extra week just to train,” he said. “We’ll run lots of hills and do longer workouts.”
After the two opening meets, this team looks promising. Their results have been consistent, and they are keeping up with the competition. And now, with two weeks off, they look for them to post high marks at the next competition.
“We’re getting better every week,” Munson said. “We have a lot of guys that contribute to the depth of our team. I’m very optimistic for the future of this team.”
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