Rutgers heads to Bronx to compete in Metropolitan Championships
It has been three weeks since the Rutgers men’s cross country team has competed in a meet.
Now with plenty of training under their belts, the Scarlet Knights look to produce some good results at the Metropolitan Championships in Van Cordlandt Park in the Bronx Friday. They will be competing against other local area schools, including Columbia, NYU and Fordham.
“It’s going to be very competitive, but I think we’re going to do just fine,” said sophomore Conor Murphy.
The team finished third at the 8.05 kilometer race last year.
They were led by then-sophomore Trent Brinkofsky, who finished in seventh overall and was named the program’s first Big Ten Athlete of the Week. The third-place overall finish was Rutgers’ best finish at the event in six years.
Last time the Knights were in action this season, they finished fourth overall at the Rider Invitational. Sophomore Dominick Munson was the top runner for Rutgers at the event, finishing sixth overall.
While a lot of time off without competition might be seen as detrimental to the team’s performance, both coaches and players agree that it was beneficial to take time off for extra training.
“We set (the schedule) up this way,” head coach Mike Mulqueen said.
The Knights decided to skip the Paul Short Run at Lehigh University so that they could have at least a week of uninterrupted practice before the meet in the Bronx.
With all this time off, the team has had more time to train and hone their skills for the upcoming meet. They have participated in many short and long-distance running drills in order to maximize their performance.
“There’s definitely been an increase in training, so I think that it will benefit all of us,” Murphy said.
Another benefit to going this long without a meet is that it fuels the competitive desire to go back out and perform well.
“When you don’t compete for a good amount, the competitive urges are more prevalent,” Munson said. “You miss the competition, and we’re all very excited to race and get back to the competition.”
Murphy and Munson are the two headliners on the team.
Murphy was the team’s top runner in the first meet of the season, but exited the Rider Invitational early because his shoe fell off. Now he’s looking to return to the competition on a high note.
“I’d like to place as high as I possibly can and give myself the best chance to win,” he said. “We ran the course three times last year, so I’d like to beat my previous time there.”
Munson, on the other hand, has finished in the top 25 in both meets so far this season. And like Murphy, he has high hopes for the team heading back to competition.
“If we all race according to what shape we’re in, we’ll all do well at the meet,” he said.
Other runners to keep an eye on are junior Luke Wiley and senior Nicholas Price, who last crossed the line in 12th and 14th place, respectively.
This meet holds a lot of weight for Rutgers, as this is the last time it is competing before the Big Ten Championships on Oct. 30.
This means that the way it performs dictates what needs to be focused on when training for future meets. A good result will give the Knights confidence because it means that the training and preparation was successful.
“Any time you run well, it sets you up for the next race,” Mulqueen said.
Every race is important when it comes to building confidence, Munson said. With the Big Ten meet looming, good results help close the gap between them and other teams in the conference.
The season is less than halfway over, but the competition is really starting to heat up. This is where good teams go out and show what they’re made of, and the Knights have shown that they’re a good team so far. Now it’s time to go out there and show how much the training has paid off.
“There’s no reason why we can’t win,” Munson said.
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