The men’s and women’s cross country teams began their season with second and third place finishes, respectively, at Friday’s Spider Alumni Open at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, Va.
Redshirt-senior Jason Skipper led the men’s team with a second-place overall finish and a time of 15:05.1. The team finished with 50 points, second to Duquesne’s 34, and a 15:24.02 average time.
The women’s team finished with 63 points, just 6 behind second-place Duquesne, and 13 behind William and Mary, which had three runners break the course record. Richmond freshman Marisa Ruskan finished sixth overall and first on the Richmond team with a 10:38.1 finishing time, and sophomore Tara Henley came in eighth with a time of 10.41.0.
The two teams entered the season under completely different expectations, with the women’s team predicted by the Atlantic 10 coaches poll to finish first in the conference and the men’s team overcoming the obstacle of running without a track program.
Men’s coach Steve Taylor said losing track had been detrimental.
“It’s been tragic,” Steve Taylor said. “It’s a tough word to use in the context of athletics, but it really has been incredibly difficult. Recruiting has been impossible. Having folks on campus last year—that was probably the best recruiting class in the 12 years I’ve been here. None of those men chose to attend Richmond.”
Both Steve Taylor and Skipper, who raced track for four years, said the team was not letting the loss of the program and recruiting class keep them from trying to win this season, and neither has given up hope that the program should be reinstated.
“Ultimately, we’d love to see the track and field program reinstated for men,” Steve Taylor said. “We hope that wise men will get together and make that decision, to overturn that decision.”
The women’s predicted finish comes from a strong recruiting class and the return of senior Jillian Prentice. third place overall at last year’s A-10 championship, and junior Clare Moretz, 21st overall last year.
Prentice raced Friday as an unattached runner and finished third overall at 10:28.7.
Women’s coach Lori Taylor said her team had been working toward the goal of winning the A-10 championship this year for the last three seasons.
“We expect to have a women’s team that competes every year to win the A-10 championships,” Lori Taylor said.
Prentice set the bar just as high for both herself and the team. “This season my goals for the team are to win A-10s and to move on to Nationals,” Prentice said. “My personal goals are the same.”
The next race for both teams is the William and Mary Open in Williamsburg, on Saturday, Sept. 21. After that, two meets in October will be the last races before the A-10 championships, which will be hosted at Richmond’s home course, Pole Green Park, on Nov. 2.
Contact staff writer Jeremy Day at email@example.com