Next week, Muhlenberg cross country has one of their most important meets in the Centennial Conference Championships. They come into this event having done well in their last meet at the Gettysburg Invitational on Oct. 19. Two runners in particular, one from the men’s team and one from the women’s team, come in with lots of momentum.
Jason Richwall ‘20 placed first out of 236 runners at the invitational and as a result received Centennial Conference Runner of the Week. This would be his first career first-place finish, which he ran 56 seconds faster than he did the last time he ran at Gettysburg. The second-place finisher, a Division I runner, would follow up Richwall at the finish line 6.1 seconds later. The senior completed the 8K in just 25:48.7 to win a second individual title for the Mules at the Gettysburg Invitational in their last three trips. His previous best finish at a large invitational was sixth place at DeSales last year. For Richwall, being honored for his accomplishment is truly special as well as motivation. “Receiving my first Centennial Conference runner of the week was a true honor,” said Richwall. “I can’t wait for the opportunity to compete against some of the best runners in D3 both next week and at regionals,” he continued. Richwall is going into the Championships with lots of confidence that will surely trickle down to the rest of the team.
Alongside Richwall’s achievement was Abby Dalton ‘22’s fourth place finish in a field of 259 runners. Clocking in at 23:05.7, this marked Dalton’s second top-five finish in a row and the fifth of her career as she looks to improve upon this performance at the Championships. Dalton is eager, as she moves onto the next challenge, to take another step forward. “Last week was the first time I raced on that course, so I am hoping to improve my time,” Dalton commented.
Even better for the Mules is that the Championships will take place at Gettysburg, a place that will certainly be familiar to the team. “I feel very excited that our training is all coming together, as we have been planning to start peaking late in the season,” said Richwall. “Being able to get my first win on the Gettysburg course, where conferences will be, is huge to not only know the course, but know how to race on it,” he added.
The team is ready to go and wants to show what they are capable of. “We are looking forward to competing at the Conference Championships. We all love the course because it is scenic and fast, and, as always, this meet is another chance to push ourselves against the competition,” said Dalton.
This will be their toughest test of the season so far, but the Mules are determined and focused to get similar results as they did in their last meet. “Conferences will be the first time we race against a bunch of our rival teams,” said Richwall. “Having had the opportunity to race at Gettysburg last week, we feel like we are ready to compete on the course,” he explained. The team is coming into the meet with a positive mindset.
With the training the teams have done and the experience they have gained this season, cross-country has the opportunity to get some great results from the C.C. Championships. “One big focus for us is training. With our long season going from August to November, [training] has been to gear our fitness to peak for the end of the season,” Richwall said. “Conferences will be our first time seeing some really good teams, and we can’t wait to compete; then, we plan to be at our best for regionals two weeks later. Having raced at both Gettysburg and Lehigh, we also feel like our familiarity with these courses will help us to succeed at these important meets,” Richwall said.
Dalton is going in with that same attitude. “We’ve been preparing for the end of the season by focusing on how our workouts will improve our performances in the race, as well as visualizing the course beforehand,” said Dalton.
The Mules are primed for success next week, and with great athletes like Richwall and Dalton leading the drive, they will see nothing but victory at the C.C. Championships on Nov. 2.