The Fairfield University cross-country teams are progressing through their seasons. This Friday, Oct. 14, the Stags will be competing in the Eastern College Athletic Conference meet that will be held at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y., hosted by Fordham University.
This will be the Stag’s first meet since Sept. 30, in which both teams participated in the Paul Short Run at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. The meet was filled with growing pains, as the men’s team finished 45th whereas the women’s team finished 33rd. The meet has also been a reflection of their season, which has featured a new head coach and an overall inexperienced roster.
Head Coach Jake Duckworth took the reins of the head coaching position for both the men’s and women’s teams last August. The hiring took place a little later than expected, as the teams were well underway with their summer training and preparation for their regular season.
In addition, in their last meet, the men’s team’s starting lineup featured four freshmen. Leading the way for the team was Jacob Bornstein ‘25, who finished with a time of 26:02.6 in the 8K, coming in 207th out of 533 runners competing. Following Bornstein was Ryan Lindley ‘26, who completed the course a minute later with a time of 27:05.5. Other runners that ran for the Stags that day were Alex Petersen ‘26, Bryce Zapusek ‘23 and Nevan Kelley ‘26.
On the women’s side, they feature more experienced runners as well as taking part in a very competitive race. Finishing 33rd, they were led by Courtney Kitchen ‘23, who exhibited excellent leadership skills throughout the meet by crossing the finish line with a time of 22:39.1 in the 8K. Kitchen also finished 88th overall in a field of 383 runners. Following Kitchen was her classmate and fellow leader, Danielle Grosso ‘23, who finished exactly one second behind with a time of 22:40.1.
The Stags have spent the past ten days wisely, putting in a lot of time and effort into preparing for the meet on Friday. This is an opportunity for the Stags to regroup and focus on the important aspects of being a successful runner: possessing quick speed, high levels of endurance and a strong mental state that allows them to be motivated to achieve their goals and set new personal records (PRs).
Even though the team is navigating through some growing pains, the future is bright for the program. Duckworth brings a new sense of energy and enthusiasm to the table, having coaching experience with the local road running club, the New Haven Road Runners, and running both Cross Country and Track at Fordham University, graduating in 2017.
Duckworth will help motivate two programs to improve after some struggles over the past few years, and with some challenging meets coming up, the only way forward is simply getting better.
For more information on the Fairfield cross country programs and athletics as a whole, please visit www.fairfieldstags.com for more information, news and updates.