Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Thursday, September 16, 2004
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Both Teams Gear Up to Host Meet

For the first time in recent memory the Muhlenberg women’s cross country team has cracked the regional rankings, after being dubbed seventh in the Mideast Region. The ranking is not surprising considering the team is coming off a Green Terror Challenge meet championship. The Mule men also won at McDaniel, giving Muhlenberg the combined co-ed title as well. Winning the meets marked the end of a dry spell for both teams. The Mule women had never won an invitational away from home and the men hadn’t won one since the Garrett Mountain Invitational in 2000.

This weekend the Mules are co-hosting the Mule/Falcon Classic with Cedar Crest. The women’s team is looking to repeat last year’s meet title, while the men are eager to get the title back, after losing it to Moravian last year.

Prior to winning at McDaniel the women’s team finished sixth out of six teams in its opening meet at the Lehigh Valley Championships on Sept. 3. However the team was competing against the likes of Lehigh, Lafayette and Kutztown and had a solid day despite the finish.
Women's XC Mideast Rankings
1 Haverford
2 Dickinson
3 Allegheny
4 Gettysburg
5 Messiah
6 Carnegie Mellon
8 Moravian
9 Elizabethtown
10 Swarthmore

“I don’t think we approached the meets any differently. I just think the competition in the Lehigh Valley Championships was much greater because we were running against Division I and II schools. But there were some great Division III schools running at McDaniel and we were very happy to win that meet,” senior Jenna Belisonzi said.

Belisonzi finished a career-best third place and junior Karen Mount finished in seventh at McDaniel, but it was the rest of the team that really secured the three-point victory over Gettysburg. Belisonzi and Mount each finished a place behind their respective Gettysburg runner. However freshmen Laura Clinton and Sara Gearin and junior Christy Grandjean finished ninth, 11th and 15th respectively, all one or two spots in front of a Gettysburg runner.

“I was happy to finish third at McDaniel but I was even happier with the performance of our team. It is really incredible to have such a tight pack running together. In past years our runners were a lot more spread out,” Belisonzi said.

In the process of winning the Green Terror Challenge the Mules defeated three Centennial Conference teams in Gettysburg, Franklin & Marshall and McDaniel. Muhlenberg will face two more CC foes this Saturday when Bryn Mawr and Ursinus visit Allentown for the Mule/Falcon Classic.

“I think it was really important to make an early statement to the CC teams. I think we probably took a lot of people by surprise and showed that we are going to hold our own in the conference this year.”

The Mules are looking to win their second straight Mule/Falcon Classic, after defeating Moravian by just three points last year. The Greyhounds are back in this year’s field and are joined by Alvernia, Bryn Mawr, Cedar Crest, Delaware Valley, Georgian Court, Rutgers-Camden and Ursinus.

“I think everyone wants to win their own meet but I think we have a little extra incentive this year because we won it last year and want to keep the tradition going,” Belisonzi said.

The men’s team also has a lot to be excited about. In two meets the only teams the Mules fell to were Lehigh, Lafayette and Kutztown, all Division I or II programs. Junior Alexander Hotz finished fifth out of 66 runners at the Lehigh Valley Championships and the Mules won at McDaniel by 27 points.

The team placed seven runners in the top 14 at McDaniel. Hotz finished second and was followed by sophomores Stephen Rothwell in third and Lex Mercado in sixth. Sophomore Tim Seeley, senior Christopher Martin, sophomore Dave Chesny and junior Patrick Breault finished 11th through 14th.

The men’s Mule/Falcon Classic will feature Alvernia, Delaware Valley, Rutgers-Camden, Ursinus as well as Moravian. In the past the Mules have performed very well at their meet having won it in 2000 and 2002 and are looking to continue that tradition

While the Mules have had some big success early this season, the big tests are still to come. Muhlenberg has already defeated Gettysburg, Franklin & Marshall and McDaniel, they haven’t run against any of the teams that finished ahead of them in the 2003 CC meet. The Mules won’t see Dickinson until Oct. 16 at the DeSales Invitational, Haverford until Oct. 22 at the Haverford Invitational or Swarthmore until Oct. 30 at the CC Championships at McDaniel.

“I think the key to getting into contention is going to be continuing to run in a pack. Last weekend our second through seventh runners all finished within about 50 seconds of each other, which is something we haven’t been able to do in the past. If we can continue to do that we are going to be very competitive this season,” Martin said.

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Last updated September 16, 2004