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Cross Country Teams Keeping in Stride

On Saturday, September 20, the Millersville cross country team went head-to-head with top ranked competition at the Dickinson College Long-Short Invitational. The Marauders men’s team combined to finish fourth.

Although the women’s team did not have stand-out Priscilla Jennings in the Dickinson race, the other girls showed the depth they really have on the team. The women’s team finished with a successful fifth place. Coach Andy Young took the weekend to rest Jennings.

“It was a laid back race, I gave her a workout to do instead,” Young said. “I saw a big improvement from last week, I’m very pleased with their performance.”

The ranked Dickinson College set the invitational up differently than most cross country races. The women could have either run in the 4-kilometer race, or the 6-kilometer race. The men could have either run in the 4-kilometer race or the 8.1-kilometer race.

Coach Young decided who ran in what race based on what he wanted to see that specific runner work on. According to Young, he placed Junior Brittney Zuver and Senior Jess Leddy in the 4-kilometer run to, “work on short-race speed, I wanted to see what they could do on a speed-based race.”

Young was very pleased with what they did in the short race. Zuver finished fifth overall in the 4k, out of a field of 197 runners, with a time of 14:44.97.

Leddy added a time of 15:35.17, finishing 28th overall. Out of 23 schools that competed, Millersville finished sixth with a combined team time of 46:04.29.The hottest race of the day fell upon the women’s 6-kilometer race in which they placed seventh out of 17 schools and turned in a combined time of 1:13:51.93.

The men’s team had an exceptional day at Dickinson. Senior Adam Malloy had a top finish for the team; He finished 10th over all in the 4-kilometer race, out of a field of 187 competitors. Malloy’s finishing time was 12:32.56.

“Malloy had a really nice day,” Young said.

Junior Jim Boyer also had a nice day in the 4k race finishing 14th right behind Malloy, with a time of 12:36.12. Ben Brewer had the fastest time for the Marauders in the 8.1-kilometer course.
Brewer finished eleventh overall out of a field of 192. The Marauders finished 6th overall in the 8k.

The competition for the Marauder cross country team for the men and women was tough. The Marauders were competing against top-ranked division three, and division two teams. “Both the men and women stayed with the top-ranked teams and competed nicely, not one of them matched up poorly,” Young said. One stand-out team ahead of the Marauders was Shippensburg, who has a prestigious program for cross country for both their men’s and women’s team. “Shippensburg’s women’s team looked extremely good” Young said.
Other division three stand-outs included Dickinson and Johns Hopkins who both placed ahead of the Marauders.

The team has a bye weekend; Their next race is the following Saturday October 4. The Marauders are traveling to Slippery Rock, for the SRU Invitational.

“Cross country is different than most sports we might only have five or six really big meets with big teams for the whole season,” Young adds. “This is a pre-national race, there will be a lot of regional teams at the race,” Young said.

This makes the SRU race one of those big meets for the Marauders. The women’s team will be going head-to-head with Slippery Rock’s top ranked regional Women’s team. The men’s team’s challengers will be top-ranked regional men’s teams such as California University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock, and Lock Haven.

Young has his team focusing on the future. The Marauders are approaching some crucial races coming up that will make the difference for their season.

His goal for the team is to train them hard so that they are at their peak performance in time for big events such as regionals and PSAC conference championships.

Training cross country teams is a “science,” according to Young. Young had this to say about the Marauders training schedule; “This week will be our last week of high intensity mileage training, we are trying to make them tired and get them at their peak performance.
Once we get them at their peak performance we will gradually drop their mileage training; By the end of October it will be dramatically dropped. Towards the end of October we rest so the teams’ bodies have a chance to tune up approaching the big regional race.”

When cross country runners get to the level that the Marauder cross country team is at now they do not have a day off, a day off for them is a six to eight mile training day.

This team has to be physically and mentally tough to perform at the level they are.

Their commitment level to the grueling schedule they endure is admirable. It is clear that the Marauder cross country team’s hard-core training is paying-off, they have potential to do big things in their meets to come.