After season-opening first place finish, Rutgers looks ahead to Fordham Invitational
Coming off a narrow yet thrilling victory at the Lehigh Invitational, the Rutgers cross country team will look to have a repeat of its performance when it races at the Fordham Invitational this Saturday.
The team looks to sustain its early success when it meets in the Bronx at Van Cortlandt Park. Going 2-0 to start the season would obviously be a huge confidence boost for the Scarlet Knights, but it would, more importantly, improve their already solid chemistry.
Rutgers has already proven that it has chemistry in its previous meet. Five of its runners placed inside the top-10 and the entire team was in the top-15. The pack was paced by sophomore Cole Pschunder who finished first for the Knights and second overall with a fantastic time of 18:38. The rest of the team's average time was 18:51. If the team can build off of that impressive performance then it can strive for a great season.
The Van Cortlandt course is a familiar foe to some as it has gained notoriety for its location and unique style. A course that starts in a huge open field only to funnel into a narrow trail in the woods marked with gravel, hills, tire tracks and bridges over highways is nearly as famous as and challenging as the Holmdel Bowl.
The course, while fun and challenging, is one where Rutgers will again benefit if it sticks to its pack strategy. A race where the mental strength of constantly changing terrain combined with the length of the course can be exhausting on its own. This race is a real test in the infancy of the season.
After impressive performances from the younger members of the team, there is a lot of hope for not just this season but a multitude of seasons. As mentioned, Pschunder led the team with a second place finish last time out, joining the freshmen Patrick Walsh and Genaro Anzalone, who both finished ninth and 11th last weekend with times of 18:57.35 and 19:04.92. Their times and their placement are promising.
Having a guy like Anzalone finish just outside the top-10 bodes well for the team. Depth is an essential component in any sport, but over the long grueling and usually unforgiving cross country season it is even more imperative. Having that solid sixth and seventh man will make all the difference down the stretch.
While the team has had early success and looks to build upon it one thing that should be mentioned is the lack of practice the team has had. Now lack of practice can be good for some teams and negative for others. Head coach Mike Mulqueen was impressed by how well his runners performed with limited practice and is looking forward to this weekend's meet in the Bronx.
“It was a good start for us,” Mulqueen said. “We only had two preseason workouts, so this was very good. We hope we can continue to build on it.”
For updates on the Rutgers men's track and field team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.