MXC & WXC: Women set school record, place 33rd at Regionals

On Saturday, Muhlenberg University hosted the cross country NCAA Division III Regional at Lehigh’s Goodman Campus. 

The men’s team placed 41 out of 51 teams while the women’s team placed 33rd out of 47 teams. This was the best finish in history for the women’s program.

The two squads were fresh off of their MAC Championship performances, where the men took twelfth and the women raced to a ninth place finish.

For Regionals, the weather was predicted to be a major factor. Temperatures were forecasted to be in the low 30s with considerable winds by the time the gun went off — harsh conditions for a distance race. However, the wind stayed down, and temperatures were warmer than expected. Ultimately, this limited the role weather played on the race. 

“It was chilly and a little breezy,” explained head coach Nicholas Wadas. “However, I think it was still good weather for a longer distance race.”

Both Colonel squads also have experience racing on this course, as the teams took part in the Paul Short Invitational on the same course earlier in the year. The course is known for being relatively flat with just a few minor hills, conditions that can lead to some fast times.

“The course was fair with a few inclines,” explained Wadas. “It provided the athletes with a great opportunity to run well.”

“The course was really well maintained,” said junior Noah Molina, agreeing with the sentiments of his coach. “It was a perfect course to race on.”

Men’s Cross Country

The men’s team entered the race already at a disadvantage, as sophomore John Zick was shut down for the season with a calf injury prior to the MAC Championships. For most of the season, Zick was a key contributor to the team, often placing among the team’s top three finishers. His loss on the course was noticeable and had a negative effect on the Colonels’ positioning. 

The team was led across the line by Molina, a familiar position for him. Molina has spent much of the season, and his college career, leading the Colonel contingent. Molina crossed the line in 28 minutes and 42 seconds.

“I’m very happy with my teammates’ performance today,” said Molina. “They really gave it their all. As for my own performance, it didn’t pan out how I envisioned it, but I’m not dissatisfied.”

Following Molina across the line were seniors Alan Sebastianelli and Kevin Singhel. Sebastianelli and Singhel capped off their careers by finishing second and third for the Colonels with times of 29:24 and 29:44, respectively. 

Sophomore Kaleb Hanson-Richart was next across the line in a time of 29:51. Junior Kevin Long was the fifth Colonel and the final Wilkes scorer. Long finished the course with a time of 30:04. 

Senior Jason Montemuro and junior Colin Ahrensfield were the final Colonel finishers, completing the course in 31:00 and 31:13, respectively. 

Women’s Cross Country

With a program-best finish at the MAC Championships, the women’s team was looking to continue their momentum heading into the Regional meet.

And that’s exactly what senior Caroline Rickard did, as she capped off her career with a stellar race and a personal record. Rickard crossed the line with a time of 24:35, setting the eleventh fastest 6k time in program history.

“I was really satisfied with how I did individually, and how we did as a team,” said Rickard. “I was able to get my all-time PR (personal record) on my last ever race. So for me, that was really meaningful.”

Freshman Mia Hensil was the second Colonel to cross the line, coming in with a time of 24:46. Hensil had a great freshman campaign, and was even named ECAC Division III North Rookie of the Month for October.

Following Hensil were sophomore Sara Ross and junior Autumn Pedron, as Ross traversed the course in a personal best time of 25:38, while Pedron came in right behind her with a time of 25:43. 

Sophomore Mia Walker was the final scorer for the Colonels with a time of 26:00, another personal record on the day for the Colonels. 

“The women had a great season,” said Wadas. “I was extremely happy with their performances, and I hope to build off this in the future.”

Senior Kaitlin Sutton also finished her running career with a personal record, as her and sophomore Sydney Rochette rounded out the Colonel finishers with times of 26:10 and 26:48, respectively.

This was the final race for seniors Montemuro, Sebastianelli, Singhel, Rickard and Sutton. Senior Jill Weston attended as an alternate.

“I was super happy with how this season ended,” concluded Rickard. “The team’s morale was at an all-time high this year, and we just kept getting better each week.”