posted 2012-11-21 20:50:45

Cross Country Teams End Season Amidst Challenges

Teams fare well at CUNYs but struggle at regionals  

Stephie-Anne Dulipre

Staff Writer

On Sunday, October 28th, after years of conference dominance, the Hunter women’s cross country team had their longstanding CUNYAC title taken away from them, getting edged by the Baruch Bearcats, 52 points to 39.

“It was such an epic day,” said freshman Alyssa Locnikar.

“Had we had a bigger team, we definitely would’ve won that race,” said senior Shantel Peters.

Even if they came short of first place as a team, the women did a wonderful job individually. Senior Lizzy Mahoney crossed the line of her final CUNYAC championship in 1st place out of 70 runners with a time of 22:59, good enough to break the CUNYAC Van Cortlandt Park record of 24:31.

“It was my last one. I have been doing this for 10 years and to PR on this course that big was unbelievable,” said Mahoney. “I’ve known what the course record has been since 2008 and I really wanted that time. It was a big goal I set for myself. Coming across the line and knowing I got it was just an amazing feeling.”

Mahoney’s teammates, Peters and Stephie-Anne Duliepre, both did an outstanding job as well, coming through at 25:33 and 25:37 to claim 7th and 8th place. Mary Leong came in 4th for Hunter, and 15th overall, at 26:56, while Alexandra Martinolich came right behind in 21st place with a time of 27:31.
The men on the other hand came home with the gold. John Aiken took first place overall with a time of 28:38. “This was my first time coming in 1st in a race ever, so I was pretty excited,” Aiken said. Christian Rojas came in 2nd place for Hunter and 3rd overall with a 29:00 finish while his teammate Justin Lee came in 6th place overall with a time of 29:29. Next up for the Hawks were Luka Spionjak and Manny Grullen who finished 11th and 12th respectively at 30:50 and 30:53. In all, the men compiled a score of 33 points, beating 2nd place John Jay by 59.

But the Hawks had little time to reflect on the CUNYACs. “The CUNY championships are not our main focus for the season. All the hard work is aimed at a much bigger race upstate, and that is the regional championship,” said head coach Ed Zarowin.

Two weeks later, as the New York area recovered from Hurricane Sandy, the Hawks were back in action, this time at the regional championships in Rochester. Speaking of the obstacles his team faced during the trials of Sandy, Coach Z said, “I can honestly say that at our team, particularly the women, have had to face the greatest amount of obstacles of all the teams running in the regionals.”
With the majority of runners being dorm occupants, they had been hit particularly hard with Brookdale being shut down since October 29th. To top off the housing and other personal issues faced by the runners, they were faced with yet again more difficulties as there were issues involving their trip to the regionals. According to sources, due to a mixup on the part of the CCNY athletic director, the cross country team was put on a bus meant to take the CCNY soccer team to Pennsylvania, rather than both the Hunter and CCNY runners up to Rochester where the race was actually located.

Regardless, the team made it to Rochester and ran a courageous race. Mahoney came in 1st place for the Hawks and in 104th out of 277 runners overall. She was followed by Duliepre, who came in 222nd place at 26:35. Martinolich came up next with a time of 29: 23, good for 257th place, while Daniela Pereira crossed the line at 33:39 in 276th place. The women were not able to score as a team as five runners are required to count officially.
The men fared a little better. Aiken came in 1st place again for the Hawks, and 137th out of 297 runners overall, with a personal record of 27:46. Justin Lee followed Aiken at 28:04, earning 159th place. Christian Rojas came in shortly after Lee, just making the top 200 with a time of 28:46. Luka Spionjak came in 4th for the Hawks, grabbing 251st overall with a time of 30:34.

“I love that everyone is so together on this team and I’m willing to dedicate myself to them and work hard to get better,” said Spionjak, who recently came from Germany with a plan to run in the NYC marathon—before Sandy hit and the marathon was cancelled. Freshman Geovani Valerio came in 275th overall, closing the race for the Hawks with a time of 32:34. The men earned 37th place out of the 44 teams competing.

“Overall, I’m not happy with the results because I know that most, if not all, of my runners should have run a minute or more faster than they did. Nevertheless, I understand the difficulties involved with the storm and everything else, and will be working to get them back on track for the upcoming season,” said Coach Z. .

The cross country season is officially over but that is just the beginning for a majority of the runners. Running is

a year-round sport and they will now, without much of a break at all, prepare for the Indoor Track & Field season.