The men and women’s cross-country team are both trying to improve from last season’s performances and continue moving in the right direction.
The men had a busy first month of the season, taking first place in each of their first two meets, the Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish Invite and the FIU Invitational. However, in their last two meets, against tougher competition, the Canes finished 22nd in the Great American Festival, but bounced back nicely with a third place finish at the Disney Invitational on October 11th.
The men have done well so far considering they are without their leader and best runner Matt Mulvaney, who will not be running this season because of injuries.
“Team wise we have done all right,” Head Coach Mike Ward said. “Losing Matt really hurt us.”
The team has been led early on by sophomore Alex Brutvan, who finished first in each of the ‘Canes’ early season victories, and finished seventh at Disney last week. The third place finish by the team at Disney moved them up one spot to the No. 12 ranking in the South Region poll
“We have improved tremendously since entering the Big East conference,” Ward said.
The Big East is a very talented cross-country conference. Therefore, Ward has set his team’s goals to be more realistic.
“The goal is to beat the second tier Big East teams and to get in the top ten of the region,” Ward said. “There are teams with full scholarships in cross country and we have less than one, so realistically, our kids have to develop more.”
However, there is reason to be optimistic. The team brought in five new freshmen and has two sophomores, so they have the potential to improve tremendously over the course of the season.
“We would have to get at least five guys to develop like Matt Mulvaney has to get into the national rankings,” Ward said.
The women have been less active in the first month of the season, using most of the time to train. They competed in the Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish Invite and the FIU Invitational, taking second place in both events. The ladies placed eighth in the Disney Invitational last weekend.
“I’m really pleased with the team,” Head Coach Amy Deem said. “We have a young group of athletes and we spent most of the first month trying to train and get better.”
The strategy for the first portion of the season was to train early on so they would be ready for the grind later in the year. The team has been focused on the Big East Championships, which take place later this month.
“We are trying to get more focused on the end of the season and I felt that we would benefit more by training this month,” Deem said.
In the last couple of years, the ‘Canes have not been as strong in cross-country as they hoped to be. This year, with a young team and a world of potential, they are trying to change that.
“We are hoping to take this young group and build on it so that we can get better in the future,” Deem said.
Melanie Schultz trained hard in the off-season and has emerged as one of the leaders of this young team, along with Marilyn Ruiz, a junior who is coming off an injury. Freshman Lindsey Rohrs has been impressive early on and gives the team a solid runner to build on for the future.
Overall, this team is young and can improve, but this season they are looking to be a factor in the conference.
“The Big East is a competitive conference and we want to go to the championships and be competitive and run well,” Deem said.