Rowan men’s cross country is back and hungry for a chance to win their second New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) title in two years.
The Profs raced to a swift start as they won back-to-back meets to start the season at the Stockton Invitational on Sept. 1st and the Philly Metro Classic on Sept. 9th.
“The key for us is what they did in the summer,” 2022 NJAC Coach of the Year Dustin Dimit said. “We put in the work and we set up training so that we can run our fastest at the end of the year, so we’ll get faster as we go, but we’ll also face stronger competition as we go.”
The top seven for Rowan participated at the Stockton Invitational and found their footing quickly during the 6k course, dominating the rest of the field by 21 points with five runners in the top seven, including junior Caleb Clevenger taking home first en route to winning NJAC Runner of the Week.
“We just need to stay focused on training which is most important,” Clevenger said. “Making sure the guys are bonding and knowing how their bodies are doing through the workouts.”
The Profs then headed to the Belmont Plateau for the Philly Metro Classic, where they took home a win again, this time racing without their top seven runners.
“We’re really happy with the work and effort we’ve put in these first two meets,” Dimit said. Especially that second race, where we didn’t have our top seven guys, but still were able to win against another ranked team in the region.”
One guy who stepped up when the team needed him most was freshman Colin Patterson, as he took home the honors for NJAC Rookie of the Week in both weeks to start the season.
“I’m just looking to stay confident in races and train well by following the leaders we have now,” Patterson said. “I just look forward to getting faster every day and training really hard.”
Clevinger noted how important it is for the young guys to step up in big spots.
“Without our top seven we were relying on the young guys,” Clevenger said. “They stepped up and showed that they can be leaders. We expect a lot and needed them to race well and they did exactly that for us.”
After a strong couple of weeks, Rowan jumped from being ranked fourth in the Metro region to second.
“We’re one spot away from the national rank,” Dimit said. “So that’s nice to see that other people in our region and in the country are noticing how well we’re doing.”
Rowan’s team lost the NJAC Individual Titleist from last year, Justin Kelly, but it hasn’t slowed the Profs down yet, showing that this start is ever more impressive and attests to the hard work this team has put in this offseason.
“Throughout the preseason we’ve all been hanging out and bonding, so we really want the best for each other,” Clevenger said. “We’ve all been working hard together.”
Even with the departure of Kelly and other key seniors on last year’s squad, the Profs have four of the top 11 NJAC Championship runners returning to the roster from last season.
“We’re excited that we have a great group back,” Dimit said. “And we get a chance to develop some young guys that may be able to help us this year and for their entire careers here. We want to focus on that development. Their attitude and their approach to things has been great.”
This gelling Rowan team gets a chance for another win at the Dickinson Long-Short Run on Saturday, Sept. 23.
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