Rowan Men’s Cross Country has a Third Place Finish at the NJAC Championships

Rowan's Jeff Stewart during a meet this season. Stewart finished in the top ten in the NJAC Championships this past weekend. - Photo / Rowan Athletics

The Rowan Men’s Cross Country team put together a solid effort on Saturday in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championships but, unfortunately, came up short. The Profs finished third behind runner-up Ramapo College and Conference Champions, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).

The Profs had three runners finish in the top 10: freshman Jacob Riley, junior Noah Cziryak and junior Jeff Stewart. These three runners also earned All Conference honors. Riley was named First Team All Conference with a time of 25:56.3, while Cziryak and Stewart were named Second Team All Conference with times of  26:01.6 and 26:04.8, respectively.  

“A lot of guys had some great races, but the guys who had been at the top for us just had a bad day,” Head Coach Dustin Dimit said. “We have to run more consistently to beat those guys, and our top five runners have to be able to stay up top in smaller races.”

Coach Dimit mentioned the execution of their race plan as the key difference in how the race turned out.

“We did not execute our plan like we were supposed to,” Coach Dimit said. “We had a plan, and it wasn’t followed. And we did not run with consistency, which are things we are going to have to improve on.”

When asked about the individual performances of Riley, Stewart and Cziryak, Coach Dimit expressed confidence in their performance.

“We’re very proud of them and the races they ran,” Coach Dimit said. “We were expecting All Conference Honors for Jeff, but for Jacob, with it being his first year running, we weren’t sure. So, we are very proud of him.”

Riley expressed his gratitude and shock at being named for First Team All Conference. “I would definitely say it was a surprise,” Riley said. “My races usually got better every time during the season, and I didn’t expect to place as high as I did. So, I would definitely say it was a surprise.” 

Riley believes the team could have possibly done a little better but also credited Ramapo and TCNJ for their tenacity. 

“We had a good plan to stick together and try to get a certain number of people in the top 15, but that didn’t go as planned,” Riley said. “TCNJ and Ramapo had good days and ran a good race though, so hats off to them.”

Looking ahead to regionals, Coach Dimit expressed that he hopes to see improvement and talked about the advantages they might have with the meet being held at the Profs’ home course.

“We usually run well there,” Coach Dimit said. “Hopefully, we have a better day than Saturday. A lot of guys ran well but it didn’t translate to a team win because it wasn’t necessarily the right guys.”

Regarding hopes and expectations for the rest of the year, Coach Dimit said he hopes to keep the team’s momentum.

“The hope is that we can keep it going and have a trip down to Kentucky for a few guys,” Coach Dimit said. “We want to go out there and put ourselves in a position to do as well as possible and, hopefully, propel ourselves to top three in the region.”

The team will compete again on Saturday, Nov. 13 at the NCAA Metro Region Championships, held at DREAM Park in Logan Township.

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