by Meghan Merkel
Twice is nice. Now double that.
Cabrini’s own male cross-country team grasped the PAC championship title for the fourth consecutive year.
It wasn’t easy.
Injuries threw an obstacle on the road to the gold. Season setbacks were felt team-wide: senior co-captain Jason Bull suffered from achilles tendonitis which prevented him from competing in a total of four meets. Junior Joe Butler and senior co-captain Ryan Jones both endured knee difficulties. Seniors Chris Nielsen and Mike Repice both also battled back from injuries. Despite a shaky start, the team was ready for the meet.
“This was the first time in four years we were not favored to win,” Bull commented.
But they did. They pushed past the favored Misericordia College, which fell to the second place slot. Marywood University came in a close third.
“This meet was probably the most competitive field in PAC cross country history,” Bull continued.
First-year student T.J. Bruzek finished 2nd overall in the five mile race, with a finishing time of 28:29. Bruzek was chosen for the 1st team all PAC selection.
Bull, the defending PAC champ, finished 3rd behind Bruzek with a time of 28:39, and was also chosen for 1st team all PAC selection.
Jones came through with a time of 29:05 completing the race with an eleventh placement, and was selected for the 2nd team all PAC. He also helped lead the team in Bull’s absence as captain.
Senior Ricky Romyn delivered his best time of 29:42, almost two minutes faster than he had run mid-season on the same course.
Repice also ran a season best improving his time by three minutes and completing the race with a 19th placement.
Freshman Chris Wagner also finished a strong season in his first year.
“As a result of my injury I had to reformat my goals. I attempted to train too hard too soon for regionals and fell short of my initial season goal. My next goal is breaking the school 1500 m record of 4:01.6, set back in 1988,” Bull commented.
Jones felt support not only came from the team, but the coaching staff. “Coach [Tom O’Hora] was a strong believer and gave us support all season long, despite our underdog ranking.”
“We were very fortunate to have an Olympic runner to help us out. Mostafa rules,” Nielsen commented on the assistant coach, El Mostafa Nechchad,
The team’s next feat is Eastern College Athletic Conference. The distance medley relay team consisting of Bull, Bruzek, Jones and an unknown member, have set their goal to win the ECAC with a time of 10:25.00.
The current record is held by Bull, Jones, Patrick Hutton and Shaun Hazlett with a time of 10:58.
Cabrini students often see the team training throughout campus. It is hard to miss them, they run nearly three or four miles a day.
Cross country is a finesse sport that consists of intense desire and dedication. With a fourth straight title tucked away, these men have proven their ability and motivation to win.
“We trained really hard through injuries and doubt, and pulled together to bring home the victory,” Jones concluded.
But do not expect the cold weather to keep them indoors. Track season is up next.