Rowan Men’s Cross Country eyes first back-to-back championship in 30 years

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Caleb Clevenger runs in a race. Clevenger is looking forward to competing in the NJAC Championships on Saturday, Oct. 28. - Photo via Rowan Athletics

The time of year that the Rowan Men’s Cross Country team has been training so hard for is finally here. The end of the season is near and on Saturday, Oct. 28, the Profs will look to capture back-to-back New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championships for the first time since the 1992-93 seasons.

The motto every season for the Profs is to progressively build up so that they’re running at their top level at the end of the season. That was the case in 2022 when they took home the NJAC Championship.

If the team can follow that game plan this season, they could be in line to take home the trophy again.

“It’s really important to us,” Junior Caleb Clevenger said. “Especially for me, we won last year, and I
remember that feeling of winning. That’s all I want to get to. I’ve been thinking about it for the last two
weeks and I can’t stop thinking about it today.”

Clevenger placed first in the 6k race at the Stockton Invitational, which was Rowan’s first race of the season. The NJAC championship is also at Stockton’s course, and Clevenger is looking to pick up right where he left off.

“It gives me a lot of confidence,” Clevenger said. “I’m really excited to go back and race the 8k course
this time.”

According to Head Coach Dustin Dimit, there was a plan behind participating in the Stockton Invitational early in the season.

“We went down there to race so we’d know the course well,” Dimit said. “We also went and practiced there last week, so we’re very familiar with it and how we want to approach the course. Some of these guys have raced there before in the NJACs. We’re confident that we know the course well and we can use that to our advantage.”

The top competition for the Profs will likely be The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Rowan is the No. 2 ranked team in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Metropolitan Region rankings, and TCNJ is the No. 3 ranked team.

“The tough task, as always, is TCNJ,” Dimit said. “That’ll be the same this year. They beat us narrowly earlier in the year once. We know that’s going to be the main competition to us for the team title.”

“I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but I think we can win it,” Clevenger said. “We’re in the mix. If anybody, it would be TCNJ, but we’re definitely not too concerned with that.”

The last two races for Rowan were jam-packed with elite competition from all over the nation. Getting a chance to face only NJAC opponents should be a familiar and pleasant sight for the Profs.

“We’re well prepared from the races we’ve done,” Dimit said. “We’re confident going in now that we won a big race, and the small field should allow us to run the race plan that we want.”

Rowan certainly doesn’t lack confidence that they can bring home the back-to-back NJAC Championships, and they very may well be the favorites to do so. We’ll see if they can hold off TCNJ as well as the rest of the NJAC and complete a feat that hasn’t been done since the early 90s.

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