Rider Men First, Women Second at TCNJ's Blue/Gold Classic
HOPEWELL-The men finished 1-2-3 and the women finished 1-2 as the Broncs began the 2011 cross country season at the TCNJ Blue/Gold Classic, held at Rosedale Park. "I like this course," said Rider head coach Bob Hamer. "This time of the season it is a fair course and even after the hurricane last week it is in great shape."
The men compile 27 points to defeat Saint Joseph's (33) and host College of New Jersey (67). The women compiled 47 points, finishing behind St. Joe's (27) and ahead of TCNJ (48)
For the Rider men, who graduated their top two runners from last year, freshman Anthony Dentino (Sewell, NJ/Washington Twp.) won his first collegiate race, covering the 5,000 meter course in 15:55.9.
"It felt good to win my first race," Dentino said. "I just tried to stay conservative the first mile and a half."
"I expected Anthony to be good because he was very talented in high school," Hamer said. "He's been running with our top guys all preseason, but to win the race was a surprise. It is quite a challenge for a freshman to come in and compete with the older men. He's definitely more prepared than your typical freshman."
"Coach Hamer is a great coach," Dentno said. "He reminds me of my high school coach and I did well in his system. I didn't expect to win my first race but I did feel this was a place where I could do well."
Winning a race that featured Saint Joseph's made it even more special for Dentino. '"St. Joe's recruited me and I know a lot of the guys on their team," Dentino said. "So it was nice to pick up a win over those guys."
Right behind Dentino were junior Sean Donohue (Cliffwood Beach, NJ/Matawan) and junior Greg Wesh (Horsham, PA/Hatboro-Horsham). Donohue finished in 15:58.30 and Wesh in 15:59.50. "Sean and Greg coming off a great track season so this was great for them to keep that success going."
"Sean and Greg were right there with me," Dentino said, "and that helped a lot. We were actually talking to each other at one point."
For the Rider women, senior Heather Giovagnoli (Royersford, PA/Spring Ford) won the 5,000 meter race in 18:58. "Heather ran a great race," Hamer said. "She really stuck to the plan and finished strong. It was a big win for her and the confidence boost will pay big dividends down the road for her and for us. She's a really good cross country runner and is finally healthy."
"I felt really good today," Giovagnoli said. "I didn't know what to expect with the first meet, but the last week of training went well. I was just hoping to go out there and see what I could do."
Giovagnoli was an All-MAAC harrier as a freshman but has been plagued by injuries the last two years.
"It's been a rough couple of years but today my legs felt good," Giovagnoli said. "I am really hoping this is the year I can stay healthy and finally run the way I know I am capable of."
Junior Megan Elgin (Doylestown, PA/Central Bucks East) was second overall in 19:04.0. "Around the two mile mark Heather and Megan made their move and were working well as a group," Hamer said.
Also for the Rider men, junior Sean McCullough (Plymouth Meeting, PA/La Salle) was ninth overall in 16:20.0, freshman Nasser Zayer (Staten Island, NY/St. Peter's) was 12th overall in 16:34.80 and freshman Evan Cornell (Toms River, NJ/Toms River East) was 13th in 16:35.70.
Junior Jillian Shutt (Lawrenceville, PA/Williamson) placed 13th overall in the women's race, covering the course in 19:37.90, while freshman Emily Ritter (Milsboro, DE/Sussex Tech) was 16th in 19:50.90, senior Kristen Perrine (Brick, NJ/Brick Memorial) was 20th in 19:56.00 and junior Erin Fitzgibbons (Sayreville, NJ/Sayreville) was 21st in 20:00.0.
Sophomore Billy Hackmeister (Coatesville, PA/Coatesville) finished 17th overall in the men's race in a time of 16:41.5, just ahead of freshman Derek Lake (Middletown, NY/Pine Bush), who was 18th in 16:42.90.
Rider travels to Van Cortlandt Park September 10 to take part in the Fordham Fiasco. "That race and that course will be more challenging," Hamer said. "Today was a good step to get us ready for next week."