This Saturday, the Blue Jays men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Logan Township, N.J., to compete in the Rowan Inter-Regional Border Battle. The race is called the “Border Battle” because Logan Township sits right at the borders of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Last year at this competition, the Blue Jays men’s and women’s teams both won first place. This race was the last regular season race of the year for the teams, as they will now be looking towards the Centennial Conference Championship in November. Last year’s performance was a tough act to follow, but the Blue Jays didn’t back down from the challenge.
Senior Sam Levy discussed how she approaches a race like this one.
“So, for the girls and I who raced at pre-nationals, this was actually our first 6k,” she said. “Our collective goal was to get out there and dust off our 6k legs, running packed up and comfortable, pushing the last 2k. My mindset, which I’m sure was very similar to most of the other girls, was to run a solid, smart race, to set myself up well as we head into championship season.”
The women’s team performed incredibly well for a team with many runners who hadn’t run a 6k this season. The Blue Jays’ top finisher was senior Rebecca Grusby, who finished in third place with a time of 21:04.1. Behind her was junior Ariel Keklak, who finished in fourth place in 21:09.3. Directly after Keklak was junior Therese Olshanski in fifth place with a time of 21:09.4, only 0.1 seconds behind her teammate. If you’re keeping track, that’s three Blue Jays in the top five. But the Jays didn’t stop their incredible performance there. In sixth place was Levy with a time of 21:11.5. And to round out the Blue Jays’ five best finishers, senior Kristin Meek finished in eighth place in 21:20.0. The top five Hopkins runners all finished in eighth place or better, getting the team an incredible 26 points and first place at the event.
The women’s team successfully followed up last year’s first-place performance with another win. When competing against multiple top-10 teams, that is no easy feat. Levy commented on the team’s dominance at this race.
“It was awesome. It feels absolutely amazing to have five girls running within 15 seconds in a 6k race,” she said. “It’s incredible watching all of our season’s work start to really come together as we head forward, and it gets me personally unbelievably excited every time I think about it and what we can accomplish ahead.”
The men had similar success in their race. The men’s team was also facing multiple top-10 opponents, but they were likewise undeterred. Leading the team were familiar faces; junior Jared Pangallozzi and senior Andrew King once again were the top two finishers for the Blue Jays. Pangallozzi finished in second place with a time of 24:02.2 and King finished in fourth in 24:23.3. Behind those two, junior Connor Delahanty finished in 14th place with a time of 24:37.9, senior Vipul Bhat earned 16th place in 24:43.4, and sophomore Sean Laidlaw was the final finisher of the Blue Jays’ top five in 18th with a time of 24:54.4.
Although the men didn’t have quite the same top-eight domination that the women did, all of their top five finish in the top 20. This gave the team 54 points which earned them second place, only three points behind Carnegie Mellon. Although they didn’t do as well as they did last year, the men’s performance was nothing to scoff at. Now both teams will prepare for the Centennial Conference Championship on Saturday, Nov. 2 in Gettysburg, Pa. Levy looked ahead to that race.
“Our Conference Championship race is very unique for us, seeing as it’s the last race that we will get to all race together as a team,” she said. “We get really excited, doing a ton of spirit stuff.... We also usually get decked out for the race with sparkles, hairspray, tattoos and, like last year, black lipstick. It’s my favorite race and, in my opinion, the most fun. We just get really excited about it, which takes away some of the bad stresses and anxieties that might come along with (what is for most of the team) the last race of the season, while also setting everyone up for phenomenal performances.”