Strong showing for host Colonials at invitational

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Photo by Evan Basista

The men’s side starts their race at the RMU Colonial Invitational.

By Evan Basista, Contributor

CLINTON, Pa.– The Colonials’ cross country teams were back in action today at the RMU Colonial Invitational at Youthtowne in Clinton. The men’s team ran an 8K race while the women’s team ran a 6K race.

This was the second of two invites held at Youthtowne they’ve participated in, following the Yinzer Classic on September 3rd, which they co-hosted with Carnegie Mellon, Pitt, and Duquesne. The Colonials were the sole host today, however, making this the first time in program history RMU was at least a partial host in consecutive competitions.

Assistant coach Billy Caldwell spoke on the importance of playing the role of host in these events.

“Hosting is a huge honor, and I think it’s something that will help our program tremendously. Giving our athletes a place to run in front of a home crowd and family and friends is huge. It gets our program some publicity, and gets people excited about what we’re doing.”

Freshman runner Gavin Fitzgerald also noted the factor of having a home crowd, saying, “It helps so much. You just have everyone cheering for you. There are people here you don’t even know sometimes chanting ‘RMU! Bobby Mo!’. It’s just great to have that home crowd. There’s nothing more you could ask for.”

Fitzgerald was the top finisher for the men’s team, who placed 4th, with a time of 28:06.5. Joining him were fellow freshmen Christian Maxwell (28:53.1) and Skyler Vavro (28:57.1), sophomore Josh Borovich (30:11.8), and freshmen Brayden Boyd (31:00.5), Austin Schaltenbrand (31:28.4), and Justin Domencic, who finished with a time of 31:58.9. Freshmen Ethan Robinson and Issac Chavez and senior Tyler Slaney did not finish.

While the women’s team did not place in this invitational, they still had something positive to show for it. Sophomore runner Rio Strosnider finished with a time of 27:26.3, while freshman runner Franny Kabana finished with a time of 32:12.5. Junior Alannah Barton and freshmen Laura Croco, Maddie Kinton, and Grace Mason did not finish.

It is a young and new group overall for the Colonials, which was something that Coach Caldwell highlighted.

“For a lot of them, it’s their first time running a 6K and an 8K,” Caldwell said. “Just getting them some experience and running against people in our conference at that distance is going to be beneficial to us down the road as we move into the later part of our season and eventually the championship part of our season.”

This is the first year the program has had a men’s team since 2013, a new beginning that Fitzgerald is excited to be a part of.

“It feels great, It’s definitely different and difficult. You have ten guys all relying on each other to do their best. Some people don’t have their days, but we’re all out there fighting, struggling, doing everything together, and that’s all you can ask for. It’s like a brotherhood.”

Caldwell also spoke on the potential that the new group has, saying: “Our guys and our ladies work really hard, and I want that to be shown off to the school as a whole. It’s the start of a new program here at RMU. We’re trying to change what RMU Track and cross country are, not only in the Horizon League but in Pittsburgh and the whole nation. We’re excited.”

Overall, it is safe to say it was a good day for the program.

The two teams will be back in action on October 1st at the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, PA.