The Ramapo men and women’s cross country team left the competition in the dust at the inaugural Roadrunner Invitational in West Paterson on Friday.
Since Ramapo hosted and paid for the event, it is considered the cross country program’s first home meet. There’s no doubt the team felt the need to perform. Head coach Mike Jackson had nothing but confidence in his athletes.
“We knew we would win,” Jackson said, “so we did what we planned on doing.”
Both teams won with four runners finishing in the top five.
“Not only did our team place first, but we also had a lot of people getting their personal record that day,” freshman Emily Brock said.
The top three runners for the men’s team at the meet were Tim Paziora, Colin English, and Brian Rochford. According to Jackson, Paziora, a senior, has “showed that he trained well over the summer with his performances.” He did not disappoint, finishing second overall with a time of 27:22.0
English, a junior, battled an injury over the summer but pushed past the pain, finishing behind Paziora in third with a time of 27:30.5. Rochford, one of the freshmen “making a name for themselves,” came in fourth overall with a time of 27:52.8. The entire team finished first overall with an average time of 27:51.2
Courtney Schofield led the women’s team, finishing first overall with a time of 19:57.5. Freshman teammate Brianna Springsteadah followed, placing third overall with a time of 20:39.3. Dragone, another rookie, rounded out Ramapo’s top three with a fourth-place finish and time of 20:43.4. The freshmen this year have been showing “instant improvements from week to week,” said Jackson. It’s not only the freshmen who have stepped up, as the whole team is “solid from top to bottom.”
Jackson has a positive attitude toward the remainder of the season, and he wants to “continue to improve and compete to win our conference.” He hopes to get the rookie runners used to the college program quickly so he can add their skill to his already talented returning teams.
Brock felt at home almost immediately when joining the team.
“The team welcomed me with open arms,” Brock said. “We’re like a family. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to run for Ramapo.”
Though the NJAC is one of the most challenging conferences in Division III athletics, Jackson knows this is one of the best chances they’ll have to win it.
“It will be an extremely tough task, but this is the best team we’ve ever had,” he said.
With the older members of the team stepping up and taking the lead plus the freshmen beginning to hit their stride, there is no doubt this could be one of the best seasons the teams have ever seen.