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Muhlenberg College

Monday, August 27, 2007

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CROSS COUNTRY STAYS CLOSE TO HOME

Although the Muhlenberg cross country teams won’t have to travel far to get to their meets in 2007, the men will have a long way to go to match the success of last year’s squad.

The Mules open their season on Friday with a 4K tri-meet
Joseph Brancale
Brancale was a member of Mule teams that finished 10th, eighth and fourth at the NCAA Regionals the last four years. Muhlenberg has never landed in the top 10 four straight years.
against DeSales and Lehigh at Cedar Beach Park – one of six meets (out of eight on the schedule) within short driving distance of campus. The last of those nearby meets is the NCAA Mideast Regional at Lehigh, for which Muhlenberg will serve as the host on Nov. 10.

“It puts a lot more strain on you when you travel far,” said senior co-captain Christy Goff, one of several returning Mules who made two overnight trips to Waynesburg in western Pennsylvania last year. “We’ll be more focused, because we won’t worry about other things, like missed classes. We’ll be able to just concentrate on our race.”

It was on the second trip to Waynesburg that the Muhlenberg men finished fourth at the NCAA Regional, matching their best showing ever and convincing the NCAA to award them a bid to the national championship meet. Five seniors were among the eight team members who represented the Mules at the national meet.

“We’re definitely a lot
Annie DeMuth
DeMuth (pictured) and fellow seniors Gearin, Goff and Clinton were freshmen when the Mules finished a program-best fourth at the CC Championships in 2004.
younger,” said co-captain Joseph Brancale, the lone senior on this year’s squad and one of only five returning letterwinners. “Those guys last year gave us a lot of leadership and showed us what it takes to get to NCAAs, and we want to come as close to last year as we can.”

Three juniors on the team made the trip to nationals last year and form a solid foundation. David Chorney, a co-captain, and Timothy Van Syckle both earned all-region honors by placing in the top 35 at the regional meet, where Chorney was Muhlenberg’s second finisher. Stuart Udis is coming off an immensely successful track and field campaign. Sophomore Patrick Thornton is the team’s only other returning varsity runner. After that, the Mules will look to their eight freshmen.

“The seniors last year were very motivational and I’m trying to give the younger runners some of that,” noted Brancale. “We hope the freshmen can mesh together and become leaders so we can be successful this year and for the future.”

The women’s team also has a large group of freshmen, but is much more experienced, with four seniors. The women return all but one of their top seven runners from a year ago, when they finished sixth at the Centennial Conference Championships and 10th at the NCAA Regional.

“We have the potential to do very well,” said Goff. “We’re becoming more of a team and working more towards team goals than our own goals. We’re finally realizing that to get somewhere as a team, we have to push each other.”

Senior Sara Gearin, juniors Laura Lipari and Janette Adams and Goff were the Mules’ top four finishers, in that order, at the final three meets last year. Senior co-captain Laura Clinton and sophomore Lauren Conicella also ran in the top seven, while senior Annie DeMuth and sophomore Alaina Ferretti add further experience.

“The freshmen are really amazing, and they came back in such good shape,” added Goff. “It’s encouraging to have so many people with the same goals.”

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