Early season success breeds optimism for cross country

Captains senior Nick Montesano (left) and graduate student Nick Oetinger (right) take part in the Oswego State Invitational two seasons ago. The two leaders look to set the pace for a solid 2014 season.  (Photo provided by Chuck Perkins Photography)
Captains senior Nick Montesano (left) and graduate student Nick Oetinger (right) take part in the Oswego State Invitational two seasons ago. The two leaders look to set the pace for a solid 2014 season. (Photo provided by Chuck Perkins Photography)

With summer over and fall just around the corner, the cross country season has officially begun. The men’s and women’s cross-country teams raced off to a solid start as both teams finished in first place at the SUNYIT Wildcat Invitational.

In the race, the men’s team took the top three spots led by senior Nick Montesano, who took first place. Sophomore Tyler Morris finished in second and freshmen Justin Sommer finished in third. Senior Meghan Murphy led the women’s team in the invitational, finishing in third place.

This weekend, both the men’s and women’s cross country teams look to keep the success going as they compete in the annual Oswego Don Masterson Invitational. The race will be around the entire campus, including parts of Hidden Fields.

In last year’s home invitational, both teams finished in fourth place. SUNY Cortland took first in both the men’s and women’s races. The home invitational is important to all of the runners, as it is their only home event of the year. The teams do not have a home invitational on either their outdoor or indoor track schedules.

It is also important to them because it is a chance to raise awareness of the team across campus and a chance for family and friends to be able to come out and watch the teams race.

“It’s the home meet. It’s where you go to school,” said Nick Montesano, senior captain. “So, other schools come here and it’s our territory so we want to defend it.”

Over the past five years both the Oswego State men’s and women’s cross country teams have done just that, finishing in the top five as a team in each race.

Murphy enjoys having the event and sees the home course atmosphere as crucial to their performance on race day. Not to mention, such an atmosphere is not something the teams get to experience all that often.

“All the support we get, and everyone around campus coming out to watch us is my favorite part about having a home race, especially because usually we have our races an hour or more away,” Murphy said.

Stephanie Grimm, head coach of both teams says the home invitation is a race that everyone on the team looks forward to.

“We train around the campus, so they know the course really well and we always have a big family, friends and alumni picnic after, so being able to have a home invitational is really important to the team,” Grimm said.

The home meet does not only bring excitement but it brings a chance to build on an impressive start to the season for both teams. Grimm was pleased to see the women’s team victory and pleasantly surprised by some of the younger members of the men’s team.

“I am very happy with the start of the season, the women won the SUNYIT Wildcat meet last year, so we had hoped to repeat,” Grimm said. “But, the men came out very impressive, especially under some impressive freshmen performances, so it was cool to have the double crown at the meet.”

Montesano is also very happy with the start of the season and said that the start to the season has exceeded his expectations and he’s happy to see the freshmen and seniors right up toward the front of the race.

Murphy said the women’s team has also exceeded her expectations for the start of the season.

“Our new girls and freshmen on the team really stepped up and helped us to win the meet, and having the guys team come out and win after us was such a great feeling,” Murphy said.

Overall, Morris said he is excited for the season and the first race at SUNYIT was the strongest performance he has seen from the team since he has been here.

The annual Oswego Don Masterson Invitational will take place this Saturday, starting in Hidden Fields. The women’s race starts at 11 a.m. followed by the men’s race, which starts at 12 p.m.