It may be difficult for many to fathom what greater successes the Quinnipiac cross country programs can achieve this season. In what has been a record breaking season from the very beginning, there are only a few hurdles left for the men’s and women’s squads to conquer, and one of those being the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships on Nov. 13 at Van Cortlandt Park in New York.
Both Bobcat squads have tremendous momentum coming off ground breaking performances at the NEC Championships. With an onslaught of injuries, the men’s team fought threw them all, and led by graduate student Thomas Martin (Commack, N.Y.), captured the NEC championship for the first time in school history. This momentum will be key if the Bobcats want to improve upon their 10th place finish last year at Regionals.
Quinnipiac’s top two finishers last year were Mike Charron (Jewett City, Conn.) and Mark Driscoll (Milford, Mass.), both of whom did not compete in the NEC’s. Others will most certainly need to step up and repeat performances during the NEC races are a must if Quinnipiac wants to muster the success they had last year. Coach Ed O’Connor said, “We certainly want to improve on our performance from last year and [the NEC Championship] performances certainly showed we can do that.”
A key to Quinnipiac success all year has been their depth, and unlike many other schools, Quinnipiac’s time spread is usually around the 40 to 50 second range. Much like most championship caliber teams, there needs to be a core of solid runners behind their ace, and the Bobcats have that in the likes of juniors Jeffrey Roginielewicz (Derby, Conn.) and Gregory Brink (Babylon, N.Y.), as well as freshman stand-out Jacob Gurzler (Ballston Lake, N.Y.).
The women’s squad also hopes to carry their momentum from their best ever finishing at the NEC Championships as they finished only two points back of St. Francis for the victory. Junior Katie Gwyther (Madison, N.H.) led the lady Bobcats finishing first overall with a new course record. Gwyther battled through injury much of last season, and the Regionals will certainly be a marker for Gwyther’s paralleled success thus far. Coach Shawn said after the NEC Championships, “She has just been amazing for us this season. I can only shake my head.”
Gwyther has had some help along the way as freshman sensation Caitlin Brady (West Sayville, N.Y) has been one of the most pleasant surprises this season. Recently being named NEC Rookie of the Year will look to have a strong impact in her first ever Regional meet.
The women finished 29th last year, and if one were to use this season as a precursor for the meet; improvement will be expected.
In a season where it seems every time one opens the paper they find record breaking performances being turned in by both cross country teams, it would be a surprise to few if there were to be a disappointing performances in New York. The trials and tribulations of injuries were all forgotten with last week’s history making races. Both coaches are to be accredited with the transformation of this program over the years, and with the season dwindling to an end; it would not be a shock to see more records being broken at the Regionals. It is just the way these teams do things.