Even without three of their top seven runners, the Rowan men’s cross country team took home fourth place in the Dickinson Long/Short Run on Saturday, Sept. 23.
While the fourth-place finish is great, the team actually wasn’t too focused on recording a good placement. Instead, the Profs and Head Coach Dustin Dimit viewed the meet as more of a warmup, due to the important race looming ahead.
“It wasn’t something we were worried about,” Dimit said. “It was scored differently with only three scorers, but we thought we executed well, raced well, and we maintained our regional ranking at number two so we’re happy with that.”
The Profs ran the 4k race but didn’t race the 8k in preparation for the Paul Short Run at Lehigh, which takes place this upcoming Saturday, Sept. 30, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The NCAA Division III Championships will be held at Dickinson this year, which gave Rowan the extra incentive to race there the weekend before their big race.
“That’s the reason we went there and raced the 4k,” Dimit said. “We don’t usually race in back-to-back weeks. We did that so we got a chance to see it and run the 4k, but not the 8k with a big meet coming up this weekend.”
The Paul Short Run at Lehigh will feature 450 college and high school teams with over five and a half thousand entries and six races for the collegiate level.
“I think everybody kind of knows that mindset right now,” junior Jacob Riley said. “This is Lehigh, so it’s a quick race and there’s a lot of great people there, so we just have to keep everyone in that mindset they already have.”
Riley was selected as the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Runner of the Week after being the top runner from the conference in the Dickinson race, while Colin Patterson was named the NJAC Rookie of the Week for the third time in four weeks.
“I hope to stay up front,” Riley said. “That race was a little different because it was a 4k, it’s not something we really prepared for, but I hope as we go into 8k we keep doing well and get those guys who are a little bit injured back up front.”
Senior captain Dario Epifania has been dealing with some injuries throughout the early portion of the season, but he’s had the same presence influencing the team. Now that he’s fully recovered, he’s feeling good and ready to race.
“I’m looking to stay healthy and stay as that leading presence being the only senior,” Epifania said. “Other than that, just running fast.”
Dario and the Profs seem to be fired up this season and have proven that they have what it takes to win, thanks to the extra work and conditioning that was put in during the summer.
“It doesn’t start on race day,” Epifania said. “It starts in the summer by building strong foundations and starting preparations before the season. These guys come fired up ready to run already. Then on race day, we just get in the huddle and tell them we’re a special team and we have what it takes. We just have to go do what we do.”