Men’s and women’s cross country teams going the distance heading into MAAC Championships
In 2012, the cross country program wasn’t even in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). Before that, they were in the Northeast Conference (NEC).
The only runner left from the 2012 men’s cross country team is Brendan Copley, who is currently a graduate student.
“When Brendan was a freshman, the team was in the Northeast Conference, which is generally weak for cross country,” senior runner Dylan Fearon said.
Copley, who has been the top runner for the men’s team since he was a sophomore, has numerous accolades. He is a two-time All-MAAC runner, a three-time MAAC Runner of the Week, made the All-NEC team in 2012 and was a two-time NEC Rookie of the Week.
Aside from that, Copley has stepped up as one of the leaders for the men’s cross country team.
“I think with those accolades, there is an aspect where people are going to look to you for information,” Copley said. “The biggest thing I’ve been working on is being more vocal and understanding that your knowledge does have an impact on people.”
Before the start of the 2016 season, the men’s team went through a coaching change. The Bobcats hired Josh Glaab, who had never coached at the collegiate level. Despite Glaab’s lack of experience, the adjustment between the runners and Glaab seemed to go well, according to Fearon and Copley.
“Right from the beginning, we trusted [Glaab’s] training, and trusted his philosophy. He really cares about the team and about the program,” Copley said.
Fearon is the other top runner on the men’s cross country team. The first thing you notice about Fearon is his physical appearance. He’s 6-foot-5, and he’s at least three inches taller than anyone else on the team.
“I’ve got longer legs than anyone else I’m probably racing against, and that will give me an advantage, in terms of I have a longer stride,” Fearon said. “I think on flat ground, and even going downhill, I have some sort of advantage against other runners.”
At the pre-national invitational in Terre Hause, Indiana, Fearon finished first for the Bobcats and 15th out of 134 runners. Copley came in second for the Bobcats, in 18th place.
In 2015, the women’s cross country team won the MAAC Championship for the first time in program history. Going into this season, the pressure for the women’s team to succeed was higher than usual.
“There’s definitely more pressure this season than last season because now that we won last year, we want to to defend that title,” senior runner Niamh Ashe said.
Not only did the women’s team win the MAAC Championship, head coach Carolyn Martin also received the MAAC Coach of the Year award.
“It was an honor to win coach of the year, and was a very exciting day, probably the best day in my career,” Martin said.
Ashe, who received All-MAAC Honors in 2015 for the third time in her career, also stepped up as leader for the women’s team this season.
“Niamh [Ashe] is 100 percent committed to performing well for her team, she had some setbacks earlier on in the season but never makes an excuse and she is a great example and leader for her team to follow,” Martin said.
Like the men’s team, the women’s cross country team also participated in its first pre-invitational this season.
“Going to this pre-national meet in Indiana was a really big eye opener,” Ashe said. “It’s really good for the freshmen to get exposure to it and to be able to run that course because that’s going to be a course that they’re going to want to run if we make it to nationals in the future.”
At the pre-national invitational (also in Terre Hause, Indiana), Ashe finished first for the Bobcats and 33rd out of 168 runners.
Despite the successes of the upperclassmen, Fearon, Copley and Ashe had nothing but praise for their respective freshman classes.
“They have adapted really well. Half of the group that traveled to Indiana this weekend was freshman, so we have a very young, talented group,” Ashe said.
“Our underclassmen have done a great job. They want to get better every day. They bring it every single day. The way they push themselves at practice is something I have not seen from freshmen since I’ve been here,” Fearon said.
The top eight runners for the men’s and women’s teams will compete for the MAAC Championship in Lake Buena Vista, Florida on Saturday, Oct. 29.