They have been working all year for this event. Three NJ schools are amp’d and ready to go for the 2014 MAAC Championship this Friday at Holmdel Park. All have high hopes as they look to dethrone the longstanding reign of perennial powerhouse Iona College. We spoke to the coaches of Monmouth, St Peter’s and Rider, the 3 MAAC schools based in the garden state.
We first spoke to Robert Hamer of Rider, who shared his thoughts. “The MAAC Championships is a very important event for the team. We focus all year on the championships portion of the season and the MAAC meet is the first one in the series of championship meets. The team is always very excited for the MAAC meet and we set up our training to be our best at this time. Our sport can be a quirky sport at times due to the limited head to head competitions where there is one winner and one loser. However, everyone can relate to our finish in the final MAAC standings. It is very important for us to have a good showing so that our program reflects well for the Rider athletic department.”
Hamer added “We put a lot of emphasis on the MAAC meet and a great showing at this meet justifies all of the hard work and training that the athletes put in from the early summer until now. I want the program to be very successful and for it to be a great representation for Rider University. Each athlete has a lot of pride when they put on the Rider singlet. They know that they are not only racing for themselves, but more importantly, their teammates, Rider, and those that came before them. It is very helpful to know that you can draw strength and inspiration from past successes which hopefully, in turn, will give each of the athletes the confidence they need to rise to the challenge of the MAAC Championship.”
Holmdel Park is surely the most famous course in New Jersey and one of the most famous courses in the country. We are proud to be the only college to call it our home course, and we hosted the championships here in our previous conference three times. The MAAC Championships will be a great event for sure. Earlier this season, we hosted the 20th Annual Monmouth Invitational. Fifteen school raced that, including 7 of the 11 MAAC teams. Between athletes and spectators from all the schools, the park was full and it was a very exciting event.
In cross country, your season can very much be defined by your success in your championship meets. For all the MAAC schools as well as for Division I programs across the country, those conference rivalries are played out in head to head competition this weekend. It’s absolutely an important day for us and our program, and I am sure the same is true for every other team in the conference.”
Compagni continued “The MAAC is a very strong conference in cross country. Iona’s men have won the last 23 years in a row and are ranked 5th in the nation in NCAA Division I right now. Iona’s women have won the last 9 years in a row and are also nationally ranked. Three other schools in the conference (Monmouth, Canisius and Rider) are ranked among the top 15 in their Region. Several other programs in the conference have a long history of success and strong programs right now in cross country.”
Clearly all three programs are excited and hoping for a strong showing. It is shaping up to be one amazing event featuring 3 hungry NJ schools looking to make their mark against the mighty Gaels of Iona and the rest of their conference. All this drama playing out on the most famous running setting in our state. One thing is for sure: its going to be a spectacular event and you should make your way down to Holmdel Park on Friday. RunJersey.com will also be on-hand for all the coverage, so be sure to check back with us for all the info.