Cross Country 2011 Season Review

 

They may not have had to go over the river, but the members of the Muhlenberg cross country team certainly ran through the woods and white, drifted snow during the 2011 season.

Samantha Mayden
Mayden finished 195th out of 277 runners at the NCAA Championships, the second-best finish in school history.

An unseasonable snowstorm that blanketed the course at the Centennial Conference Championships was just one memorable moment as the women’s team posted one of its most successful seasons ever, grabbing the highest regional finish in program history and tying the best finish at the CC meet. The youthful men’s squad, which featured just one senior and one junior in its top seven runners, added another solid showing.

And while it snowed in Pennsylvania in October, there were no flakes in the air in Wisconsin in late November when junior Samantha Mayden was just the third woman in program history to compete at the NCAA Championships.

The year started with the two teams, which were both ranked in the regional preseason top 10, finishing sixth at the Lehigh Invitational, a meet comprised mainly of Division I and II teams. Mayden offered a glimpse of what was ahead as she finished seventh overall and first amongst Division III runners. Senior William Lowrey posted his best finish of the year as he paced the men in 13th place.

Two weeks later, with the top runners sitting out to rest, the men captured the team title at the Falcon Classic at nearby Cedar Beach Park. Five Mules finished in the top 11, led by sophomore Thomas McGuire (2nd) and freshman Zach Lifman (5th). Despite not sending enough runners to register a team score, the women still impressed as seniors Kimberlee Yalango and Melissa Ugelow finished third and fourth, respectively.

Kimberlee Yalango
Yalango, who had competed in just one race prior to this season, finished 15th in the short race at the Long-Short Invitational and 50th out of 112 runners at the CC meet.

The following week, the regular runners picked up where they left off as the men finished fourth, one point out of fifth, at the Dickinson Long-Short Invitational. The women, led by a third-place finish from sophomore Nicki Cronin, came in second in the short race to help the women’s team move up to a season-high fifth in the regional rankings.

The next time the Mules returned to Dickinson, for the CC championships, the course had an awfully different look. Thanks to a blizzard on the last Saturday of October, the ground

William Lowrey
Lowrey led the Mules in the short race at the Long-Short Invitational and was second across the line at regionals.
was covered in snow before the races even started.

Despite the challenging, slippery conditions, the women still excelled, coming in fourth, matching the best finish in program history. Mayden led the way with a sixth-place finish to earn first-team All-CC honors. She is just the fourth Mule female to finish in the single digits. For the second year in a row, the men finished sixth, led by Kieran Newcomb, who was the first freshman to be the team’s top runner at the conference meet since 1994.

Two weeks later, the women’s team came in seventh at the Mideast Regional, the highest mark in program history. Once again, Mayden led the way, finishing 11th to qualify for the NCAA Championships and earn all-region honors for the second year in a row. Cronin also earned all-region honors by finishing 33rd; it was just the third time in program history, and first since 2003, the women’s team had two all-region runners.

Missing one of their top runners, the men came in 18th. For the first time in his career, sophomore Charlie Kline led the way.

Junior Erica Bash had a solid season, finishing second on the team at the conference championships and coming in a season-high 13th in the short race at the Long-Short Invitational. Freshman Chelsea Rivenbark and sophomore Ramzy Burns rounded out the top five women’s finishers at the regional meet, with all five returning next fall.

On the men’s side, junior Nate Crossette was the third Mules to cross the line at regionals, and sophomore Bobby McGetrick finished in the top three on the team in four races, including the conference meet.