The Rowan men’s cross country team struggled to find their footing at the Mike Woods Invitational and now face their most important stretch of meets this season.
The team underperformed, placing tenth out of 24 teams and only placed two runners in the top 50. Head Coach Dustin Dimit was pleased with some of the younger runners’ performances but was not satisfied with how the team did overall.
“We weren’t real happy with our performance,” Coach Dimit said. “We wanted to be a lot higher than that. We had a lot of guys run really well, a lot of our young guys had PRs or were very close but didn’t really execute how we wanted to.”
Senior Justin Kelly was able to keep his strong start to the season going, placing 18th overall with a time of 25:31.1, but was also a bit disappointed in his race and hopes to improve with the team approaching championship season.
“I was really happy with his [Kelly’s] race,” Coach Dimit said. “He wanted to be top 15 because that’s awards but he really fought the whole time and I thought he was one of the guys who was where we needed him to be.”
Kelly, who was sick with the flu the week before, holds himself to a high standard and knows that he and his team need to perform better in the future.
“It definitely wasn’t my best performance but I think in the coming weeks if I can stay healthy I’ll improve a lot,” Kelly said. “I think for the team I think it was maybe just an off day… I think we’ll get it right in two weeks and we should be ready to go on our home course.”
Kelly and the team will be using their performance from the Mike Woods Invitational as motivation for the Border Battle, where they look to overtake the teams that beat them.
“I think that’s a big motivating factor,” Kelly said. “I think a lot of the guys are really just trying to put their heads down this week and next week and just train hard and race well next Saturday because we kind of are coming off one of our tougher races and I think everyone is really just trying to do a lot better next time.”
“We’re excited that they’re [teams that beat them] here again because we know those are teams that are very similar teams to us,” Dimit added. “If you’re gonna lose to them once and win once you’re gonna want to win later in the year.”
The team dropped two spots and is now ranked fourth in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Metro Region poll, and fell out of the top 35 national rankings.
They will look to get back on track on Saturday, Oct. 15, as they host the Border Battle at DREAM Park in Logan Township.
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