Rutgers ends three-week break with second place finish at Metropolitan Championships
After three weeks without racing, the Rutgers men’s cross-country team traveled to the Bronx Friday hungry for competition.
When all was said and done, it was safe to say that they had feasted.
The Scarlet Knights finished second at the Metropolitan Championships hosted by Fordham University in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It was the team’s best finish in the event in seven years.
Manhattan won the event, while Columbia finished in third.
One year after being the top finisher at the meet and helping the team to a third-place finish, Trent Brinkofski did it all over again for the Knights. The junior paced the team with a fifth-place finish, running the 8.05-kilometer race in 26 minutes and 26 seconds and had an average mile time of 5:17.4 per mile in what he considers one of his favorite places to run.
“Van Cordlandt keeps me focused because it’s a tough and hilly course and has a lot of obstacles,” Brinkofski said. “When you look at the history of the sport, it’s a very prominent course. It’s always fun to run there.”
Despite the stellar results, he still had a few reservations about the team’s overall performance.
“As a team, we’re running faster than before, but we didn’t do as well as we would like to,” he said. “We could have came in first, and some of the guys are little disappointed with how it turned out. But we’re improving and we ran some fast times, so these are positives you could take out as we approach championship season.”
Brinkofski was joined in the top-ten by sophomore Dominick Munson, who finished right behind him in sixth place with a time of 26:39.3.
Including Brinkofski and Munson, Rutgers had a remarkable top seven, who all finished in the top 20. Rookie Nicholas Pschunder finished in 13th, sophomore Conor Murphy finished in 14th, junior Alex Livernois finished in 16th, senior Nick Price finished in 19th and junior Luke Wiley crossed the line at 20th.
Heading into the meet, the Knights were three weeks removed from finishing fourth in the Rider Invitational. They had plenty of time to train and made sure that everyone was in peak form. Rutgers had their kinks all ironed out, and showed that they were ready to return for competition. And at the end of the day, that training paid off big time.
“We got a nice break from racing for a while, and I think our coach did a good job of giving us tough workouts,” Brinkofski said. “We were running some workouts that we couldn’t do last year, so that was a big confidence booster heading into this past Friday.”
The Knights will next compete at the Princeton Invitational this Friday as a final tune-up meet before the Big Ten Championship, which will take place at the end of the month. Since the Big Ten meet is much more important, the focus should be on keeping everybody healthy while still trying to produce good results.
“Princeton is a meet where we like to go to gain confidence,” Brinkofski said. “We will be racing on a flat grounds, so people will run fast times there and gain confidence. It’s important to bring us there to see how fast we can run on a flat course. Hopefully it will make us stronger heading into Big Ten, because Big Ten is the most important meet of the season.”
Rutgers has been getting better with each meet of the season, culminating in their best result the last time they went out. Doing better each time out is a definite confidence booster, and this can only mean good things going forward for the Knights, especially with one of the biggest meets of the season coming up on the schedule.
“It’s always good to see progress,” Brinkofski said. “This season we started off knowing we were stronger than we were in the past. In previous years there was a gap between certain people, but this year we have seven guys who are pretty close in terms of capabilities. We keep getting stronger.”
For updates on the Rutgers men's cross country team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.