Rowan’s men’s cross country team is looking to make a statement this week as they prepare for the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship meet in search of redemption from last season.
The Profs went into last year’s conference championship meet without their top guy. Current senior Justin Kelly was inactive at the end of last season due to illness but having him healthy this year might just be what the team needs to come out on top.
“It’s definitely huge,” Head Coach Dustin Dimit said. “He was our top guy early on last year so any time you lose your best person it’s going to be a big imposition.”
After competing against over 300 competitors in both of their last two races, they come into this meet prepared for high competition with a less populated field.
“I thought last week was a good week,” Coach Dimit said. “Last week there were almost 400 people in the race and this is basically us and TCNJ [The College of New Jersey] up front there where there’s a good chance 12 or 13 of the top 15 are from those two schools so you can kind of see the person you need to beat… they’re just as good as we are so it’s one of those things that we just got to go out there and perform and try to make sure we’re the ones to come out on top.”
The Profs’ main concern remains to be the defending NJAC champions TCNJ as the team feels there isn’t much to worry about other than their squad.
“Ramapo always races well, Stockton is a lot better so I think those two teams are good,” Coach Dimit said. “But I definitely think TCNJ and Rowan are at a different level from the rest of them from what we’ve seen so far.”
“That’s pretty much about right,” sophomore Jacob Riley added. “We expect one or two guys from Ramapo, maybe a few other teams but it is mainly just us and TCNJ.”
The defending champs will play host to this year’s NJAC championship meet, but the Profs believe that does not matter and they are prepared to execute their game plan.
“We’ve been there so we know what it looks like,” Riley said. “I feel like we’re pretty comfortable going into it. They might know a little bit more of how to run it because they do workouts but we still know what’s coming.”
The team comes into this meet ranked fourth in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Metro Region rankings and will look to move up within the next couple of weeks.
“After the last race, I thought we should have been second in the region,” Coach Dimit said. “We know the top four teams are all very similar so it depends on the day and how people perform… all those teams are very good so now it’s just going and trying to perform our best at the end.”
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