Aug. 31, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Army cross country hosted its first competition of the season on Friday, the Army Open, at the West Point Golf Course, hosting seven local schools in a non-scoring meet. The Black Knight women shined by capturing the top-eight finishes, including Lisa Junta's winning mark, while the men recorded 10 of the top-11 times. Also competing were Ramapo, Merchant Marine, SUNY Maritime, City College of New York, Monroe, the College of New Rochelle, and the U.S. Military Academy Prep School.
Typically a 5,000-meter course, the route was elongated but roughly 300-400 meters for the convenience and safety of the runners.
The men's meet opened the afternoon as junior Ricardo Galindo earned Army's top time, crossing the tape in 17:14.50. Galindo was narrowly edged out by Monroe College's Ansu Sowe, who recorded the winning time of 17:11.30.
Behind Galindo were classmates James Hodgen (17:22.50) and Mark Castelli (17:28.80), who was competing in his first race since 2010. Fellow seniors Dan Jester (17:29.00) and Kevin Russell (17:46.30) finished in sixth and seventh place, respectively, a fact that didn't escape Army head coach Troy Engle.
"The other day I really challenged the upperclassmen to step up and lead from the front of his team," said Engle. "I'm really impressed with guys like James Hodgen and Dan Jester who took that to heart. We still need someone to break through as a frontrunner, but this was a step in the right direction and a sign that shows what could happen if we keep working hard."
On the women's side, Junta picked up right where she left off at the end of her outstanding outdoor track season. The sophomore exploded away from the rest of the field, capturing the individual title with a time of 19:06.30, besting the No. 2 finisher by over one minute.
Army, which earned nine of the top-10 times, finished one-through-eight as freshman Lindsay Gabow placed second overall in his first collegiate competition. Gabow crossed the line in 20:07.10, and was followed by junior Liz O'Donnell (20:23.50) and senior Jill Busby (21:05.00), who was running in her first meet since 2010.
"Lisa ran yet another phenomenal race," remarked Engle. "She was impressive as always. What was also great to see was a freshman jumping into the front like Lindsay Gabow did. The strong returns of Liz O'Donnell, who trained overseas during the summer, and Jill Busby, who hasn't competed in a couple years, were also promising for us.
"This race really showed how the women are a great team, their esprit de corps. They have great team chemistry by the way they motivate one another and work together, while keeping their eyes on the big prize and not just the small victories at the Army Open."
The Black Knights' next test will prove to be more challenging with regional powers Cornell and Binghamton coming to the West Point Golf Course next Friday, Sept. 7, for a tri-meet. The men's race is set to kick off at 4:30 p.m., and will be followed by the women's competition.