Runners ready for first meet

The cross country season officially kicks off tomorrow afternoon, as the men’s and women’s teams will host the Friend Invitational at West Fairmount Park’s Belmont Plateau course at 3 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. respectively.
Newly hired coach Adam Bray, who has had just a few weeks to prepare with the team, is looking forward to seeing his athletes in action for the first time.
“I want to see them compete, first and foremost,” Bray said. “I haven’t seen them race other than [redshirt senior Travis Mahoney] at the national meet. So I want to see how competitive they’re going to be.”
Mahoney, a two-time All American, is what Bray calls the “one key ingredient” to the current roster, and has evolved into a leader and role model for both teams. Although he will not be running in Friday’s event due to strategic reasons, last week he discussed what the race will accomplish for the Owls.
“It’s more of a rust-buster,” Mahoney said. “It’s to kick the rust off the legs and run and see what we’ve built up over the summer—and what we’re made of.”
The men’s squad, which placed 10th in last year’s Atlantic 10 Conference Championships, will face fierce competition in the event, as it hosts La Salle University and Saint Joseph’s University. La Salle is coming off of a strong 2011 season in which it won the A-10 title, led by a first place finish from now-senior Alfredo Santana. Last week, in La Salle’s opener, Santana had another first place finish in a match against the University of Pennsylvania. St. Joe’s finished third in the conference last year, and featured Rookie of the Year Paul Szulewski. The Friend Invitational will be the Hawks’ third race of their season.
On the women’s side, which placed 12th in last year’s A-10 Championships, the Owls will also face two solid teams. Like the men’s team, La Salle’s women snagged a first place finish in last year’s A-10 Championships, while Saint Joseph’s placed fifth. Temple has just two freshmen on its current roster, and hopes its returning athletes—including last year’s team leader sophomore Jenna Dubrow—will provide valuable experience for the team this season.
Rayna Kratchman, who is one of four seniors on the roster, is looking forward to racing on the team’s home course at Belmont.
“I think we’re all excited to be able to race there,” she said.
Kratchman would like to see the team do better in the conference, in what is its last year before moving to the Big East.
“I definitely would like to be able to make a little more of an impact, as a team, in the A-10’s, because in the past we’ve kind of hung in the middle,” Kratchman said. “But I’m hoping that we can move ourselves up given that we’re going to be in the Big East next year.”
If that is Temple’s goal going into the season, doing well in tomorrow’s meet against two conference inter-city rivals would be an awfully good start.
-Avery Maehrer

Cross country looks toward 2012

The schedule for the men’s and women’s cross country teams was released on July 17, and by the looks of it, the Owls will have a great opportunity to take advantage of some home field advantage.

The fall season will kick off Sept. 15 with the Friend Invitational at Belmont Plateau, the practice course used by both teams. After the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University and the Leopard Invitational at Lafayette University, the men’s and women’s teams will return again to Belmont Plateau on Oct. 27 for the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships. The teams will look to improve upon their results from last year at the A-10’s, where the men and women placed 10th and 12th, respectively, in the 14-team race.

Distance coach Matt Jelley is happy to see his teams get a chance to play at a location they are familiar with.

“That’s real exciting to be home,” Jelley said. “The last few years, we’ve had to travel a lot—to places like Pittsburgh and St. Louis—so it’s nice to be home and not have to experience things like jet lag or anything like that.”

After the A-10’s, the Owls will head west to Penn State for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships on Nov. 9. A week later, the men’s and women’s teams will close out their season as they compete in the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America and Eastern Collegiate Association Conference Championships, respectively. Last season, the women’s team earned a school record 15th place finish at the ICA4’s, while the men dropped to fifth place two years removed from a first-place finish in 2010.

The men’s squad will look to bounce back this season after what Jelley called a “rebuilding year.” Part of the reason for the drop off in 2011 was the redshirting of All-American Travis Mahoney. Mahoney will return this fall, and Jelley thinks his reemergence will give the team the boost they need to succeed.

“There are a lot of people who probably think [Mahoney] graduated and don’t realize he is still running cross country,” Jelley said. “There’s also the fact that the team wasn’t as good last year without him. When he comes back, that’s going to be a big shot in the arm for us.”

On the women’s side, Jelley continues to expect “big things” from sophomore Jenna Dubrow, who will attempt to continue her torrid streak, having ranked at the top of the team in every one of her collegiate meets thus far. Jelley is hopeful that Dubrow and her teammates will contribute towards the continued evolution of the team and program.

“We’ve been young for a while. Now we have both the talent and the experience,” Jelley said. “That’s going to pay dividends, and the fans and alumni are going to be pleasantly surprised with just how hard this team has worked.”

Here’s a look at the complete schedule for the 2012 men’s and women’s cross country season.

9/15/2012 Friend Invitational Belmont Plateau (Philadelphia, Pa.) All Day Details
9/28/2012 Paul Short Invitational Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pa.) All Day Details
10/13/2012 Leopard Invitational Lafayette University (Easton, Pa.) All Day Details
10/27/2012 Atlantic 10 Championships Belmont Plateau (Philadelphia, Pa.) All Day Details
11/9/2012 NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships Penn State (State College, Pa.) All Day Details
11/17/2012 IC4A Championships Van Courtland Park (Bronx, N.Y.) All Day Details
11/19/2012 NCAA Championships Louisville University (Louisville, Kent.)

Avery Maehrer