Bullets race to start off the season
By Andy Milone, Staff Writer
The 2016 Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Alumni Race took place Saturday morning, with the hot conditions bearing down on the current and retired Gettysburg College team members. The men of the current varsity team defeated a group of 24 alums by a slim six-point margin, 25-31, while the women of the current team defeated a group of eight alumnae by an emphatic total, 50-15.
The first place finisher on the men’s side, alum Adrian MacDonald, crossed the finish line in a time of 17:10, but the veteran trio of sophomore Alex Petrecca, sophomore Matt Robinson, and senior captain Nate Wojick came quickly behind to finish second, third, and fourth, respectively.
The men’s varsity squad was without senior captain and 2015 First Team All-Centennial Conference selection Ben Taber Saturday due to a scheduling conflict. Taber posted a time of 16:31 in the past season’s 2015 Alumni Race, which was fast enough to place first overall in last year’s friendly competition and would have this year as well.
Sophomore Mike Miller, new to the team this year, made a strong debut with a seventh place finish in 17:59, while first-year Jonathon Gronke demonstrated endurance in his first collegiate race with a ninth place finish in 18:31. It will be important for the newcomers like Miller and Gronke to step up as the team graduated a program record of nine senior runners in May.
“We are so thankful for the senior class who provided so much leadership and also with their performance on the cross country course,” said Taber. “This year, our role [as captains] is to provide leadership to the underclassmen who are carrying on a tradition, but also we have to turn a group of individuals into a team that is going to work together and do all the little things.”
In the women’s race, it was the women’s senior captain Amanda Asaro that led the runners across the finish line with a time of 19:45. Junior Elizabeth Hilfrank placed second in 20:12, while last season’s top first year runner and NCAA Division III Mideast Region All-Freshman selection, Sarah Rinehart, placed third in 20:46. The varsity squad outmatched the group of alumnae as eight varsity members finished before the first alum, Sophie Kashurba, came across the finish line in 22:57.
“Our alumni meet is a really great start to our season because it allows for the first years and incoming class to adjust to racing with the comfort of the team and the warm faces that come back because they love the team so much,” said Asaro.
The Centennial Conference ranked the men’s side sixth and the women’s side fifth in the preseason poll regarding the conference championship finishes. The men are set on improving upon their sixth place finish at the championships and nineteenth finish in the region from a year ago.
The men hope to take top five in the conference and top fifteen in the region, and there are a lot of steps in place to achieve these goals:
“A key for us this year is staying healthy. We have to be consistent with hydrating, eating right, stretching, and all the little things because we lost a big senior class and maybe don’t have as much depth as in year’s past,” said Taber. “It becomes even more important for each individual to do his part, so we can be there at the end of a long season competing for conferences and regionals.”
On the women’s side, there is hope for a top four finish in the conference with some focuses in order to improve upon the team’s past performances.
“We created a schedule with 3-three week periods leading up to the conference meet,” said Asaro. “During each week, we want to focus on the time by really grasping it and taking advantage of each period in order to prepare us for the finals.”
The alumni race acted as a final tune-up for the Orange and Blue, as the two sides look to begin their regular season this Friday evening, Sept. 2nd, under the lights at the Shippensburg Invitational beginning at 8p.m.