Men’s Cross Country wins race for Empire 8 Championship

Source%3A+ucpioneers.com

Source: ucpioneers.com

Nick McAdam, Sports Editor

The Utica College men’s cross country team won its second consecutive Empire 8 Championship at St. John Fisher College by a narrow two-point lead over Houghton College and Nazareth College.

The victory gave the men’s program a second in-conference title to add to the entourage. The Pioneers now stand in a gallery with men’s golf and women’s soccer,  both of whom claimed recent Empire 8 Championships as well in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Key performances to the win came from senior Mitchell Marlow with a time of 26:03.5, junior Kyle Englehart who finished with 26:54.5 and sophomore Hunter Reed with a score of 27:28.1.  All three runners placed within the top ten of the event, which was the most out of any team except Houghton.

Next up for Utica is the NCAA Atlantic Regionals hosted by St. Lawrence University, a competition that has given the Pioneers a harder run the past two seasons.

Coach Sam Catterson gives a lot of credit to all of the players on the team for goal setting and hard work throughout the season to reach feats such as the Empire 8.  

“We expect to win, even when we aren’t favored to,” Catterson said. “The conference championship is a reward for months of very difficult training. The men’s dedication and consistency to training put them in a position to win the championship, their heart and guts in the race are what got it done.”

The Pioneers currently have a heavy count of six senior players on the team, while the other number of players attribute to first-year players or runners heading into their third year.

Time is on Catterson’s side to mold his younger players as the older players, like a key contributor in Marlow—who has a good shot at racing in individual championships—move on.

Willing to step up to the plate and set an example through both communication and results on the field is Englehart, one of the two players that will be a senior next season. He wants to set a standard of patience as results begin to roll in as one puts in more effort into their work.

“Through my three years with the team, I’ve been through a lot and I think my biggest piece of advice to younger athletes is to have patience,” Englehart said. “It took me until my sophomore year to actually see myself making improvements.”  

According to both Catterson and Englehart, this was the key to winning the division again this season. The ability to sit back and read the field is what led the Pioneers to claim victory and get the result they needed.

“We knew the talent was there and that we had the potential to win as long as each person did their job,” he said. “As a team, we were in fourth place most of the meet and in third with only 2k to go. Everyone stayed calm and made moves down the stretch. Coach Catterson told us to sit back and relax and wait to make moves and that’s exactly what we did.”

The biggest credit to success on the field for the cross country team this season was the success they had bonding off the field. Englehart has not seen a team bond such as this one has in his three-year career with the Pioneers.

“Our coaches have told us all year that we are the hardest working and strongest team in the conference,” he said. “Winning conference championships isn’t common at UC and it’s special when a team wins one, especially two-in-a-row.”