With just a few invitationals left in the season, the men’s and women’s cross country teams are focusing on the CUNY Athletic Conference Championship on Oct. 26 in Van Cortlandt Park before the indoor track season begins.
Both the men’s and women’s teams last two invitationals were hosted by York and The College Of Staten Island. The men did not place because they lacked enough runners to qualify for team scores while the women placed 5th and 10th in both invitationals. Head Coach Mark Benjamin explained his thoughts on both teams this season.
“My athletes that have been training with me regularly are running the best they ever ran in their lives, I’m very impressed,” said Benjamin. “Jesus is a solid gold. Alana, who is a freshmen is almost like the fourth fastest girl in all of CUNY so she is coming out nicely. Roy-don has become a very strong runner. He is like my number two guy while Captain Jesus is my number one.”
Benjamin also describes the invitationals as more than just CUNY Colleges entering the competition, but division two colleges as well. Despite them not ranking in the top 10 in team scores, he’s optimistic that they can perform well in the CUNYAC Championship.
On the women’s team, Benjamin said that Freshmen Alana Johnson has been a standout player for the season. Johnson wants to not only improve in her 5k and 6k events, but on her mental thinking for the championship.
“I tend to give up a lot in the middle of the race,” said Johnson. “I find myself not going as hard as I can. At the end of the race that’s when I say I could have done better, I could have done better I could have gone faster so hopefully at the championships I will be able to do what I could have done.”
Johnson’s best 5k run in the month of September was 23:47. As much as the women’s team is making improvements over the course of the season, the men’s team is also making strides. Senior Jesus Medina, captain on the men’s team expressed his thoughts on the season and the CUNYAC Championship.
“I feel stronger right now than the beginning of the season,” said Medina. “My times are dropping and I’m just focusing on
staying healthy and finishing this season strong. The practices have been hard and really long. But in the next week or so were going to start slowing down and getting easier so we could rank down to championship form.”
Both Medina and Johnson feel ready for the championship and the indoor track season. Staying healthy in sports is crucial for athletes during the season. Benjamin’s training focuses on the prevention of injuries, but it’s still hard to avoid them in competition.
“It’s the luck of the draw,” said Benjamin. “My training is designed so you don’t get injury. But you can twist an ankle anywhere, you can step wrong and twist your knee. We do a lot of training where the core is super strong so if that core is strong it protects your knees and ankles. A lot of core work and muscle confusion so you don’t do the same thing all the time.”
The teams will have plenty of time to be ready for the championship and the indoor track season based on their training since September. All the time and effort they put in for the season will be tested and Benjamin believes it will be a success for both teams placing first or second.
“If we can manage second place I will be pleased for the boys and the girls,” said Benjamin.