Rowan Men’s Cross Country had an astounding performance at the eighth annual Border Battle, finishing first in both the Men’s 8k Championship and the 8k open race.
The Profs battled through inclement weather and 17 regional opponents on their way to both victories at the DREAM Park in Logan Township.
“We’re extremely happy with how well the course ran this weekend,” Head Coach Dustin Dimit said. “That’s a big shoutout to the maintenance people at the DREAM Park who’ve worked with us to develop and maintain this course and the work they put in really helps us put on a first-class event.”
Rowan had five runners place in the top 30 in the men’s 8k championship, and seven in the top 20 for the open 8k on the cold and rainy Saturday.
“This is the deepest and most cohesive team I’ve been a part of,” Senior Captain Dario Epifania said. “There’s not a single person here that I question if they have the same vision as me. We all want this team to come away with a championship and it shows up in our work every day.”
The Border Battle was the third time in five races that the Profs came away with first-place honors in their main events this season.
“It was great, we’ve been talking all season about hitting our stride this time of the year,” Dimit said. “To go out and be able to win at home was great. Most guys ran about a minute better than their lifetime bests over an 8k, so they’re really hitting their stride at the right time as we work into championship season.”
Jacob Riley was the top finisher for Rowan, placing eighth in the men’s 8k with a time of 25:11.0. Riley had high expectations entering the race. He and the team lived up to those expectations and then some.
“It was very impressive,” Riley said. “We followed what we wanted to do. We stayed composed and we took our experience from the workout at the DREAM Park and used it in the race. We’re confident, and we know what we’re capable of. Now it’s just a matter of refining and when championship time comes, we have to perform.”
Riley’s performance at the Border Battle earned him the honors of New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Runner of the Week.
With NJAC championships lined up next for the Profs, the team’s confidence is sky high, thanks to the team’s depth and some younger runners’ legs.
“We spoke earlier in the season about some lineup issues and guys being in and out with injury,” Epifania said. “Even though we weren’t at our best before, we’ve kept it rolling at it all came back together at the Border Battle. Our depth showed, having a whole host of guys place before a regional opponent’s fifth guy.”
Now, the team feels as if they can not only compete for the NJAC title but make a run at the regional one.
“We’re confident we can be competitive and have a good chance to with the NJAC,” Dimit said. “But this race goes to show we should have a good chance to be first or second in the region as well and contend for that regional title in a month.”