Rutgers finishes in last place at Big Ten Championships
The Rutgers men's cross country team competed at the Big Ten Championships this past weekend in Bloomington, Indiana. That race came right on the heels of a historic Metropolitan Championship win. The Knights were not able to have a repeat of that success last weekend as they finished in 12th place with a score of 366 points. Michigan came away with the Big Ten title against several teams that were ranked in the NCAA top 30.
While Rutgers has performed well, they faced an uphill battle against some of their Big Ten rivals. Big Ten competition is always stiff and cross country is far from the exception to the rule. Eight of the 12 teams participating in Sunday’s race were either ranked or received votes in the most recent top 30 national poll. Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin are all expected to move up in the national polls after superb performances.
This was not the strongest showing for the Knights. Although, the team’s times were not bad at all. In fact, the times were better than the ones that won the Metropolitan Championships, but the competition was much stiffer and Rutgers needed to be better to have a shot at the Big Ten title. The team knew this would be the most difficult race of the season and adjusted its goals appropriately.
“Big Ten Champs is different. We’re going to try and beat some people, try to keep moving, run a little looser. We got nothing to lose” said head coach Mike Mulqueen before the meet.
In a race with nothing to lose, the first Knight across the finish line was junior Conor Murphy, who finished in 73rd with a time of 25:42. That’s nearly 30 seconds better than his time at Metropolitan Championships, where he finished eighth and 13 seconds better than his run in Bloomington.
Sticking to the pack, three Scarlet Knights crossed the line next in near succession. Sophomore Cole Pschunder and senior Luke Wiley finished back to back in 80th and 81st with times of 25:55.3 and 25:56.8, respectively. They both improved on last years Big Ten performances.
Junior Dom Munson eclipsed the 26 minute mark in a Big Ten Championship race for the first time in his career. Freshman Patrick Walsh continued his rookie success with his third-best finish in the 8K this season thanks to a time of 26:11.3. Walsh has been the Knights' biggest surprise so far. Rounding out the scorers for Rutgers was senior Trent Brinkofski and freshman Billy Hill.
While the competition was tough and the result less than favorable, Rutgers still performed to its ability. The runners stuck together and improved their times. While that did not translate to a victory, it has in the past and could easily in the future. After the Big Ten Championships, the Knights go back to Lehigh’s Goodman Campus, a site very familiar to the team, as it has already ventured there twice this season. There, the group will participate in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships (MARC).
“Everyone is looking forward to MARC. We’re gonna run our hearts out.” said Wiley.
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