Another school year marks the start of another season. Once the Canisius College men's and women's cross country teams arrived to campus this fall, the teams headed up to Allegany State Park for an intensive five-day training session. The terrain located along the running trail was a perfect course to prepare the teams for the upcoming season and the challenges that lie ahead in the 2011 season.
The teams enter the upcoming season, focused and fit. The women's cross country team will be led by a trio of seniors, including Julia Dahlkemper, Jill Shea, and Christine Mulvihill. Head men's and women's cross country coach Peter Osmond thinks highly of these three saying, "The talent and experience of these three will provide the five underclassmen to what promises to be another successful year." The emergence of these three, will help fill the void left by five-time MAAC Runner of the Week honoree Maura Frauenhofer, who graduated this past spring. In 2010, Frauenhofer led the women's team to a second-place finish at the MAAC Championship, the team's highest finish since 1997.
Finishing in eighth place behind Frauenhofer at the 2010 MAAC Championships, Mulvihill will look to pick up where her former teammate left off. Throughout her career, Mulvihill has found tremendous success on the courses despite battling through some nagging injuries. According to Osmond, the senior is entering this preseason in the best shape he has seen her arrive in. "She is very focused on her goals. I have very high expectations for her this year, and I am looking forward to seeing her achieve what we both know she can," declared Osmond.
In addition to the senior three, sophomore Mikelle Cala adds depth to the Golden Griffins' roster. In her first season last year, Cala captured first place at the Little Three Championship and 11th place at the MAAC Championships. "Mikelle had a superb freshmen year, surpassing my expectations on a number of occasions. Now having a bit more experience, I have no reason to believe she won't improve upon last fall, and as she knows her success is crucial for our team's success," said Osmond.
The women's second-place finish at the 2010 MAAC Championships was quite an accomplishment. Osmond believes the team's success was because of their ability to execute the task at hand. "Our finish was very special in that we did exactly what we needed to do when we needed to do it," explained Osmond. Over the past five seasons, the women's cross country team has continued to improve, placing sixth, fifth, third, and eventually second in the past four MAAC Championships. Osmond does not expect anything different from this year's group at the MAAC Championships on October 28 at Van Cortlandt Park. "My goal for this year is to continue that success. My expectation is simply that we continue to improve throughout the season and peak on October 28," said Osmond.
Osmond's expectations for the women's team carries over to the men's. This year's team is different in both talent and dedication, according to Osmond. After finishing seventh in a field of 10 teams at the MAAC Championships, Osmond would like to develop new expectations for the men's team to create the same improvement in results as the women's team.
The men's cross country team has depth and talent along the starting line. "In addition to adding a strong freshmen class for the fall, we have our seniors, Jonathan McDonald and Mark Kearney, who are both having their best preseason so far," said Osmond. The ninth-year coach is excited to see how the depth and talent of the squad will bring about week-to-week competition to earn a spot in the top seven.
In addition to McDonald and Kearney, the men's squad will rely on sophomore Nathan McCabe and junior Alex Simon. After a successful first year, McCabe brings talent and potential as a top performer to the squad. Osmond has high hopes for McCabe in the near year, "He is very knowledgeable about the sport, and he has already shown me some things this season that lead me to believe that he will improve on his successes from 2010."
Excelling in 2010, Simon was one of the top scorers for the men's team. Having a great season this past year, the Buffalo native captured the men's title at the Little Three Championships. "This year, his performances should benefit from the added depth, and the training partners that go along with that depth," said Osmond.
The expectations of this season are no different than in the past. For Osmond it is quite simple, MAAC Champions. The Griffs' path to the MAAC Championship opens at the Duquesne Invitational on Sept. 3 followed by the National Catholic Invitational on Sept. 16. On Sept. 24, the five-time Little Three Champion Golden Griffins will defend their overall title versus rivals Niagara University and St. Bonaventure University at Lewiston, N.Y, home of the Purple Eagles. Following their local meet, the Griffs hit the road for a pair of meets, including the Paul Short Run at Lehigh University on Sept. 30 and the UAlbany Invitational on Oct. 15. After six meets, the Golden Griffins arrive at the MAAC Championships, the meet the team has spent their entire season preparing for.