Cross Country 2012 Season Review

 

The 2012 season was a historic one for the Muhlenberg women’s cross country team and its top runner.

For the second year in a row, the Mules came in fourth at the Centennial Conference Championships (behind three teams ranked in the top 15 in Division III), matching the best finish in program history. And although they placed eighth at the NCAA Mideast Regional, one spot below their program-best finish of 2011, that in itself was proof of how far the team has come.

Samantha Mayden
The first Muhlenberg women's runner to qualify for the NCAAs twice, Mayden placed in the top 10 in all six of her pre-NCAA races, including two second-place finishes.
One of Muhlenberg’s top runners was unable to finish the regional race, and another competed with an injury. Still, the Mules made it back-to-back finishes in the top 10 for the first time ever – not bad for a program that came in 25th in 2009.

Brendan Smith
Smith came in 10th in the short (4K) race at the Dickinson Long-Short Invitational, helping the Mules to a third-place finish.
Leading the team all season, and especially during the two championship races, was senior Samantha Mayden, who wrapped up one of the most accomplished careers in Muhlenberg women’s cross country history. She came in fifth at the CC meet and seventh at the regional meet, becoming the first Mule female to earn first-team all-conference honors twice and the second to make the all-region squad three times.

Mayden’s regional finish earned her a bid to the NCAA Championships, where she came in 67th – the best placing by a Mule runner, male or female, at the national meet.

Junior Nicki Cronin overcame an early-season injury to earn all-region honors for the second year in a row, finishing 31st at the regional meet.

The remainder of the Mules’ top seven consisted of senior Erica Bash, freshman Melanie Tramontina, juniors Jackie Shulack and Ramzy Burns and sophomore Chelsea Rivenbark.

Bash (third), Tramontina (fourth), Rivenbark (sixth), sophomore Cassiah Sahl (seventh) and Burns (ninth) all finished in the top 10, along with Mayden, who won the race, as Muhlenberg captured the Falcon Classic at Cedar Crest. In their last meet before the CC Championships, the Mules finished sixth in a strong 20-team field in a rare out-of-region competition at the Connecticut College Invitational.

The Muhlenberg men are trying to follow the same path as the women and took a step in the right direction in 2012. After two years of finishing sixth at the CC Championships, they inched up a spot to fifth, and they also improved their placing at the Mideast Regional from 18th in 2011 to 15th.

Muhlenberg did not place a runner in the top 30 at the CC meet or in the top 65 at the regional meet. But even without a superstar, the Mules found great success running in packs. And they did it with a young squad: Their top seven runners in the championship meets were a freshman, three sophomores, two junior and just one senior.

Sophomore Luke Munyan and junior Charlie Kline took turns at the head of the Muhlenberg pack. Both finished in the top five at the Falcon Classic (Munyan third and Kline fifth), leading the Mules to the team title.

At both championship meets, Kline was the first Mule across the finish line, and the top five Muhlenberg runners (also including Munyan, junior Bobby McGetrick, sophomore Kenny Wohl and senior Brendan Smith) were separated by less than a minute.

Sophomore Josh Elkan and freshman Stephen Sroka rounded out the top seven.