Chris Hall rarely makes statements that he can’t back up. When it comes to this year’s men cross country squad, though, the seven-year veteran can’t help but smile.
“I think our team is the deepest that I’ve ever had here,” said Hall, who guided his squad to UAA championships in 2002 and 2004. “We’re young, but our 7th, 12th, 15th-best runners are as strong as we’ve ever had.”
It comes in stark contrast to the top-heavy lineups of the past few seasons, when the Maroons relied on their upperclassmen to set the pace. With last year’s dynamic one-two punch of Brian Hague and Emil Bojanov having graduated, the squad has a few holes at the top, but Hall believes that his team’s unprecedented depth will more than compensate for the losses.
“I don’t think we’re as strong up front—there’s not a big time gap now [between the top runners]—but I think it’s a tighter group. They really feed off of each other.”
On a team with 19 freshman, the squad will look to fourth-year Ryan McCarl and third-years Ryan Ascolese and Chris Peverada for leadership. McCarl and Ascolese have experience competing at national and regional meets, and will likely play a major role if the Maroons are to return to Regionals.
Despite the optimistic outlook, the squad’s UAA prospects remain muddled . NYU will head into the October 27 UAA meet as overwhelming favorites to repeat as champions. The Maroons will join a crowded field gunning for second, though, with 14th-ranked Carnegie Mellon, 27th-ranked Case, 33th-ranked Wash U, and 35th-ranked Emory all in the mix.
Spotlight on Front Runners
In Cross Country, teams really are only as strong as their weakest link, as the team’s top 15 runners all score points. Without a bona fide All–American candidate on the roster, the squad’s depth will play a deciding factor in just how well the team competes. Hall hopes that the presence of so many quality runners will bring out competitive streaks, all while preventing any one individual from handling too much pressure.
“I just think that’s what’s really fun about this team,” Hall said. “They have so many people to run with.”