Change Can Be a Good Thing
College Cross Country
Rider Defeats TCNJ, St. Joe
PENNINGTON, NJ—Average runner but above average author, philosopher and historian, Henry David Thoreau once said “Things do not change; we change.”
Rider University junior Emily Ritter (Millsboro, DE/Sussex Tech) made a change in her life and it may well have changed her career.
Ritter helped the Broncs win the TCNJ Blue/Gold Meet, held at Rosedale Park Saturday morning. The season-opening meet included teams from host College of New Jersey, Rider and Saint Joseph’s University, as well as cross country alumni.
In the men’s race Rider scored 23, defeating Saint Joseph’s 42 and TCNJ 70.
In the women’s race Rider finished with 29, ahead of Saint Joseph’s 46 and TCNJ’s 46. “The women looked great,” said Rider head coach Bob Hamer. “Meg (Elgin) looked like Meg and Emily is where she should be. That one-two punch this year will be a lot of fun.”
For the Rider women, graduate student Megan Elgin (Doylestown, PA/Central Bucks East) finished first overall, running the 3.1 mile race in 19:02.61 and Ritter placed second overall in 19:05.57.
It marked the second straight year that Elgin won this race. “I felt really good today,” said Elgin, a finalist for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and New Jersey College Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards for 2012-13.
For Ritter, it marked a 50 second improvement in her time from last year despite the hot and humid conditions, moving up 16 spots in the finish.
“After cross country season last year, before indoor track, I changed my diet,” said the 5’9” Ritter, who broke the Rider record last winter in the indoor mile by seven seconds (4:50.1) and during the outdoor season ran a 4:48 mile to place second in the MAAC.
“Last spring I was beating my PRs by a half a minute (in the 3K) because I cut out all dairy in my diet,” Ritter explained. “I feel so much better now. Today I felt great. Coach Hamer had me running with Meg (Elgin) which was a little intimidating, but we had a hard workout last week and I was able to do it with her. That gave me a lot of confidence coming into today.”
For the Rider men junior Anthony Dentino (Sewell, NJ/Washington Twp.) was the first collegiate finisher, covering the 5,000 meter course in 15:19.31. “I felt great,” said Dentino, who for the third consecutive year was the first collegiate runner to finish. “We went out hard but once I settled down a little bit, about two or three minutes into the race, I started feeling pretty good.”
Also for the Rider men, who began the season ranked in the top 15 in the Region, senior Corey O'Neill (Old Bridge, NJ/Old Bridge) was third among collegiate runners in 15:41, junior Dylan Hallahan (Wrightstown, NJ/Northern Burlington Regional) was fourth in 15:49 and sophomore Sam Knipper (Randolph, NJ/Randolph) was fifth in 15:52.
“After Dentino we have a big clump,” Hamer said, “and if they stay in that clump and stay within a 20 second gap we’re going to have a great team. That clump is made of experienced and young runners that will make for a fun year.”
Freshman Salman Khalid (Galloway, NJ/Absegami) began his collegiate career with a 15:57:35 clocking to finish eighth overall, seventh among college runners. Junior Evan Cornell (Toms River, NJ/Toms River East) was ninth in 15:57.77.
The overall men’s winner was Christian Gonzalez ’11 (15:18.33), the 2011 Rider Athlete of the Year who now competes on the pro circuit. Gonzalez won the IC4A cross country championships as a senior in 2010 and placed 27th in the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 800m.
“It was awesome to have Chris running with me today,” said Dentino, an All-East Region runner last year. “He is someone I want to be like. He was so close to making Nationals and that is a goal of mine. Last year I wanted to make All-Region but this year my goal is to be in Indiana (NCAAs). I knew Chris would push me today. He has a better kick than I do, but for today that’s okay.”
“It was great to have Christian running with the team today,” Hamer said. “He’s been a great mentor who took this program to a new level and Dentino’s goal is to build on what Chris accomplished.”
Also for the Rider women, sophomore Nicolette Mateescu (Kendall Park, NJ/South Brunswick) was sixth overall in 19:25, freshman Megan McGarrity (Philadelphia, PA/Saint Basil) was seventh among collegiate runners in 19:36 and junior Josephine Boyle (Pleasant Valley, NY/Arlington) was 13th in 20:12.
In the women’s race TCNJ was led by Tara Nelson, who placed third overall in 19:15. Saint Joseph’s was led by Elizabeth Barrett, who placed fourth (19:20) and Emma Slattery, who placed fifth (19:21).
In the men’s race, St. Joe’s was led by Dan Savage, who placed third (15:39) overall, second among collegiate athletes. For TCNJ, Andrew Tedeschi placed 13th (16:09) overall, 10 among college runners and first for the host Lions.
Also running in the women’s race, senior Gabrielle Randell (Warwick, NY/Warwick) recorded a 21:15 despite the humid conditions. Senior Katie Williams (Franklin, NJ/Wallkill Valley) finished in 21:40, sophomore Vanessa Rappold (Coplay, PA/Allentown Central Catholic) clocked a 21:52 and freshman Kayla Lubonski (Edison, NJ) finished in 22:06,
In the men’s race Mike Soroko ’12 was 10th overall in 16:06, sophomore Tom McLaughlin (Egg Harbor Twp., NJ/Egg Harbor Twp.) was 14th among collegiate in 16:14 and sophomore Jon Knipper (Randolph, NJ/Randolph) was 16th among college runners in 16:22,
In his first collegiate race freshman Connor Szwetkowski (Middletown, DE/Caravel Academy) ran a 16:34, junior Derek Lake (Middletown, NY/Pine Bush) finished in 16:40, senior Matt Sampson (Manasquan, NJ/Manasquan) clocked a 16:44, freshman Phil DeFroscia (Monmouth Junction, NJ/South Brunswick) finished in 17:07, freshman Richard Dufresne (Old Bridge, NJ) had a time of 17:17 and junior Nick Bencivenga (Edison, NJ/J.P. Stevens) finished in 17:49.
Both the Rider men and women won the three-team meet last year as well.
The Broncs compete at the Fordham Fiasco held at Van Cortlandt State Park in the Bronx September 7. “Van Cortlandt is always a tough course,” Hamer said, “but that is where the MAACs are so we always look forward to running there.”
Some things never change.