Rutgers eyes high finish at Rider Invitational
The Rutgers men’s cross-country team opened its season last week with a bit of success against some of the best programs in the country. Now it will look to produce solid results against some lesser competition.
The Scarlet Knights return to action after finishing seventh in last week’s Spiked Shoe Invitational, as they head to Pennington, New Jersey, to compete in the Rider Invitational this Friday, hosted by Rider University. Last year they finished sixth overall in the eight-kilometer race.
Last week, the Knights competed and ran well against powerhouses such as defending national champion Syracuse. While there won’t be any national powerhouses at this meet, there will be schools such as Marist, Siena, Richmond, Wagner, TCNJ, LIU Brooklyn and Temple.
Head coach Mike Mulqueen expects the team to do well in the face of this competition.
“All of these teams are solid cross-country teams, so running well as a group is important in trying to beat them,” he said.
One Knight to look out for is sophomore Conor Murphy.
Murphy was the highest finisher last week, finishing in 19th place with a time of 27:12, and now he looks for a faster time and a higher finish in this meet, as well as a higher team finish overall.
“I think all of us should run faster this meet than last meet, and hopefully we’ll have a good result,” he said.
Dominick Munson is also someone to keep an eye on. The sophomore finished in 21st place, just a second behind Murphy. And like Murphy, he hopes that he and his team can improve for this meet.
“We haven’t been too crazy with workouts yet, so we can all improve a lot,” he said. “Our fourth and fifth runners can be a bit closer to our first three.” He also added that he thinks he is capable of winning the race, or potentially finishing in the top-five overall.
Improvement seems to be the theme heading into Pennington.
While the individual results from last week were decent, a seventh-place finish out of 10 teams is definitely something that can motivate the team to performing better the next time out.
Munson mentioned after last week’s meet that the team’s top seven runners can beat each other on any given day, so the Knights can definitely make some noise in competitions if the results in training translate to success on the field.
Mulqueen stressed that one of the main goals for training this week was to reduce the differential between the first and seventh runner. Last week it was over a minute, and if that time can be cut down, expect the results to reflect the training.
Since teams are ranked based on the sum of all runners’ placements, getting higher placements will result in a higher team finish.
The Knights are headed into their second meet of the season, which means that it might be a good indication of what direction this team is headed.
Last week was promising, but good teams will have consistent performances week in and week out. Based on their performance last week, this looks like a good team that can compete well with most schools, but there is still work to be done.
But if the right improvements are made, this will be a team to look out for at meets, and if they perform well in Pennington, it can go a long way in how this season will play out.
One of Conor Murphy’s goals for the season is to beat his personal times from last year and to be in good shape for the Big Ten Championship at the end of the season, and if he fulfills that goal, it will be a great service to his team and will definitely help them perform well in meets.
To add to that, Munson wants to finish in the top 40 at the Big Ten Championship. When players have motivation to do well, it reflects on the rest of the team and motivates them to do well.
Overall, this looks to be a good season for Rutgers, and early season performances like this one will help determine just how well they will do the rest of the way.
“I think we could win as a team,” Munson said. “And I think we should win.”
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