Both the Fairfield University men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in the 2021 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship this past Saturday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, finishing ninth and eighth respectively.

In the 8K, the men’s team was led by Robert Dillon ‘23, who ran a time of 26:34 and finished 55th out of 139 qualified runners, along with Jacob Bornstein ‘25, finishing at a time of 27:15 and 82nd out of 139 eligible runners.

In the 6K race, on the other hand, the women were led by Danielle Grosso ‘24, who finished 35th out of 132 runners with a time of 23:02, as well as Mia Melao ‘22 and Courtney Kitchen ‘23, who ran an identical 23:16, finishing 44th and 45th respectively out of 132 eligible runners.

Despite not achieving the results that they wanted, there is a lot to look forward to down the line for the Stags. Head coach David Scrivines touched on the current state of the team, as well as how the team is staying focused despite the growing pains they are going through this season.

Coach Scrivines acknowledged that the development of the first-year and sophomore runners, as well as the leadership from the upperclassmen, is very important to how the team will progress moving forward. 

“We have no seniors on our men’s team. So we’re definitely on the inexperienced side. Robert [Dillon ‘23] has done a great job from a leadership standpoint, conveying a consistent message and having everybody ready,” Scrivines said.

Dyllon leadership has not gone unnoticed to the members of the team. “He has done a great job as a first-year captain, you know, helping establish routines for a lot of inexperienced runners because the reality is, on the men’s side, our freshmen are first year college runners, but are juniors are really just second year college runners because they only had one year of competition before then,” Scrivines commented on the experience of the team. “So we’re essentially first and second year runners on the men’s team.”

The women’s team, however, features a greater number of seniors who have experience as a Stag. “On the women’s side, Jane Frawley has done a great job as our senior captain, you know, we have more momentum on that side and our routine is a little bit more established on the inside but we have also have more numbers on the women’s team which with the higher numbers you have, the more challenging it is from a communication and leadership standpoint,” Scrivines mentioned.

He also views the trip to Walt Disney World as an opportunity for the team to compete in a unique environment, better preparation for the upcoming NCAA Regional meet, as well as building team camaraderie and memories outside of running. “We’re excited that we’re having the Disney trip. The whole point of the Disney trip is that every student athlete on the Cross Country team gets a Disney trip during their four years so to get one this year is exciting,” Scrivines mentioned. 

Scrivines also pointed out the significance of this race, and how much it means to his student-athletes. “Our athletes have had this circled on their calendars since July when we knew we were going down to Disney. So it’s a big, big, big need for us, it’s our number one priority ahead of the NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] regional meets, so it’s important,” Scrivines said.

The cross country teams, both led by Scrivines, are in a bit of a transitional phase at the moment, but the difficulties in the present will ultimately allow the team to flourish in the long run. Even though they are not quite where they want to be, the things that the team are doing right now will help them in the future.

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