All-freshman team picks up speed to start the season
The sun beamed down from above as the racers took to the starting line. Despite the heat, the energy among the athletes and stillness of the morning could be felt throughout the crowd. After the countdown, a shot rang through the air followed by the shuffling of dozens of sneakers against the grass – and the racers were off.
In their first race since 2004, Montclair State’s Red Hawks joined other collegiate teams at the Ramapo Season Opener on Sept. 4. Though the ladies had not been in the spotlight last season, they certainly made a name for themselves as they climbed through the path at Garrett Mountain. Of 10 other schools who also participated at the meet, the Red Hawks placed third.
Coming in strong for her first meet, freshman Allison Mycek was the top finisher for Montclair State and ninth overall with a time of 21:35.1. Close behind, freshman Katie Hagerty completed the course in 22:42.3 while coming in second for Montclair State and 16th overall.
With a week dedicated to training, the Red Hawks continued on to the Monmouth Cross Country Invitational at Holmdel Park on Sept. 12. Placing sixth overall and tallying a total of 148 points, the team did not fare as well in their second meet of the season. However, while taking to the course against Division I teams such as Monmouth University and Rutgers, the Red Hawks were seen exerting their best effort in such a highly competitive field.
In turn, though the overall score of the meet did not align with their first, the ladies appeared to improve or maintain their overall times. For the second week in a row, Mycek continued to lead the Red Hawks as she finished 34th overall with a time of 21.10.4. Following her teammate, Hagerty held strong until the end and was able to again clinch the second place spot for Montclair State while completing the 5K in 22:22.3.
While the Red Hawks will be pushing themselves in practice for their next meet, the ladies are certainly not alone. A former student athlete, Coach John Brennan has been working with the all-freshman team over the summer and is heading into the season with much-needed experience. Coming from a tenure at Felician College, Brennan had led the Division II school to victory in the past and will nonetheless work with the Red Hawks to do the same.
Only time will truly tell if the recently-formed Montclair State team will live up to the raised expectations across the division, especially at the beginning of the season. The next stop for the Red Hawks is the Bill Fritz/Charlie Way Invitational, where fans of the team can catch the action live at Rowan College in Sewell, N.J. on Sept. 19.