Rutgers prepares for upcoming Big Ten Championships
The Rutgers men's cross country team returns to action this weekend when it will travel to Bloomfield, Indiana to participate in the Big Ten Championships. The Scarlet Knights look to continue a great season with a stellar performance this weekend.
With the season nearing a close, Rutgers looks to continue its success all the way through NCAA Championships in Louisville on Nov. 18.
Last time out, the team took a historic leap with a first-place finish at the Metropolitan Championships. The Knights had not finished first at that meet since 1986. This was one of the team's main goals for the year and easily its greatest accomplishment so far.
It looks to top that accomplishment with a positive result at the Big Ten Championships. While the competition will be tougher than the last meet, Rutgers has never been more up to the task than it is now.
“The Big Ten Championships are another world. We’re gonna try to use the momentum we have to beat some people and move up in the rankings,” said head coach Mike Mulqueen.
After a successful race in Van Cortlandt Park, the Knights hopes to build on their success. The reason the team was able to come away with a win at the Metropolitan Championships was the pack strategy.
Rutgers' top-seven runners finished inside the top 15 at that meet. They were aggressive in the final stretch of the race, passing others, but never getting past themselves.
That kind of a push toward the end of a race can be the decider in a close meet. Mulqueen had nothing but praise for his team after the win, and that praise has turned into confidence for the runners.
“We stuck to the pack strategy and our time differential was 19 seconds," said junior Dom Munson. "We’ve always had a pack but now we’re moving the pack up more, and that means more wins. If we can race like we did at (the Metropolitan Championships) we can knock off some teams."
Munson is joined by teammates freshman Cole Pschunder, junior Conor Murphy, senior Luke Wiley and a host of others in runners who could hit the top of the leaderboards at the Big Ten Championships. At the Metropolitan Championships, all four competitors finished within the top 10, securing that coveted first-place finish.
The team is ready for the matchup, as its momentum and confidence could not be higher. Rutgers faces a true test and has a chance at history, as the Knights have not been able to beat a Big Ten team yet, but are confident that streak won't last long.
The group is well-rested and well-trained, but the competition is much stiffer. Four top-30 ranked teams are apart of the meet this weekend, as well as four others that previously made the rankings. While the task may seem daunting, the Knights are battle-tested and ready.
“Everybody is really looking forward to the Big Ten Championships and we’re ready to put our nose to the grindstone,” Wiley said.
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