If you asked this year’s cross-country team how they define the season, a majority would say it’s been a year of overall improvement.
So far both teams have improved this season in all three of their meets. On Sept. 16 at The Mainline Invitational, the 10 team members who competed in the same event last year set new course personal records [PRs]. Last weekend was the first time at Lehigh University for three of the seventeen Muhlenberg runners. According to Head Coach Brad Hackett, of the 14 veteran runners, all recorded career highs for the Lehigh course.
The captains and veterans of the teams have been setting examples for their teammates, inspiring them to find their greatness.
“When we see others hit a PR it gives everyone energy and motivation to carry the torch,” said Jason Ivey ‘23, captain of the men’s team. “Given our improving performances and close-knit group, we all support and feed off each other’s success.”
This high team morale has been a crucial factor in their success.
“Running is not an easy sport mentally or physically,” says Adrienne Ellison ‘23, captain of the women’s team. “I am so proud to be on such a close and supportive team. We are all working hard at practice and supporting each other on and off the track.”
This season has been an advancement of the team and program. From day one to the final race (before the conference championships) against DeSales University on Oct. 8, the teams have been and will continue to—work hard day in and day out.
The DeSales Invitational on Oct. 8 presented a particularly challenging course, that the Mules overcame.
The women placed 10th out of 19 squads (eighth amongst Division III schools). Caitlin Kinnear ‘24 led the women’s team for the first time in her career by placing 24th overall in a race with 203 finishers. Ellison was right behind, placing 26th overall.
“Jem Berney [‘26] made their debut in the season, and they were our 4th finishing running!” said Ellison. “Caiti Kinnear has shown significant improvement in each meet this season and finished in the top 25 this Saturday in this highly competitive race.”
The Mule men placed 11th out of 20 teams, and eighth out of Division III schools. Adam Stefan ‘23 led the men’s squad for the fourth consecutive meet, placing 23rd overall and 17th among Division III athletes in a race of 251 finishers.
The main focus of the season is the team’s performance in the conference championship and regionals, Oct. 29 and Nov. 12 respectively. The women’s and men’s teams have been running their highest mileage and most challenging workouts to reach their season goals.
“On the men’s side, we want to be top five in the conference and top 10 in the region,” says Ivey. “Individually, we want everyone to PR at conferences and regionals for those running.”
As for the women, “We have a younger team this year with a ton of potential,” says Ellison. “Last year, we placed 7th at regionals which are the highest in school history, and we think we can strive for the top 10 again this year.”
“As a team, our goal is to perform at our highest level at the conference meet and even more so at the NCAA qualifier,” says Hackett.
Based on the hard work, dedication, and improvement from both teams at every one of their meets, they have high hopes going into conferences and regionals.
The cross-country team will be competing Oct. 29 at 11 a.m. for conference championships in Haverford, PA, and Nov. 12, at 11 a.m. for the NCAA Metro Regional in Center Valley, PA.