Aug 30, 2013
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – Perhaps no athlete understands the value of steady progress better than a runner; keep outing one foot in front of the other and eventually – you will get where you’re going.
Last season, the Pirates were greatly improved, excelling in a variety of ways as they posted three second-place team efforts on the course and in the classroom, they captured the BIG EAST Team Excellence Award for being the men’s cross country team with the highest GPA.
The Seton Hall men’s cross country team has come a long way in recent years but as the 2013 season approaches, the Pirates still have their eyes on where they want to take the program.
A squad enters the new season looking to form a new identity following the departure of Jared Hanko who graduated in the spring after placing as SHU’s top male finisher in all but one race since the start of the 2011 season, as well as classmates Tony Cramond and Cory Hellwig.
Steering the ship for the new look squads will be an experienced core of runners led by its three captains, senior Carl Johnston (Surrey, British Columbia), junior Tyler Orner (Sinking Spring, Pa.) and sophomore Ryan Flannery (Forked River, N.J.).
As the only senior in the bunch, Johnston is the most seasoned competitor that will suit up for The Hall this season. As a freshman in 2010, he made an immediate impact by posting the best finish on the squad in all seven meets he entered. The following year, he was present in the Pirates’ lineup for all nine meets and enters Saturday coming off a junior campaign where he ranked among the top-three SHU men in eight of nine appearances.
Orner earned a captain nod after competing in all 18 meets over his first two seasons, routinely turning in one of the best performances on the team. He has proven that he can produce his best when it matters most as in his first trip to the BIG EAST Championship, he registered an 8K time of 27:32.2, a mark that stands as a personal record. At last year’s NCAA Mid-Atlantic regional, he improved upon his previous best 10K mark by over 40 seconds, recording the seventh of eight top-five team finishes he collected on the year.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of 2012, Flannery emerged as one of the team’s most consistent performers in just his first season, scoring for the team in the final eight meets and ranking among Seton Hall’s top-three in the last six to close the year. His freshman season featured a number of highlights including a stretch of three straight weeks in which he picked up a top-16 overall finish and most notably, a first-place team finish in the finale at the IC4A Championships.
Flannery’s finish signaled a changing of the guard that will help usher the Pirates into a new era in the program as he was the first male to lead the team other than Hanko in 17 races.
Also returning for the Pirates is a pair of sophomores in Jacob Bast (St. Louis, Mo.) and Joseph Martinelli (Branchburg, N.J.) who played a major role for the team in their first collegiate season. Bast competed in all nine meets; posting three top-20 finishes overall and scoring for the team on five occasions while Martinelli scored two top-25 finishes of his own while appearing in all but one race.
Brothers John Walsh (Deltaville, Va.) and Kevin Walsh (Deltaville, Va.) are back for their junior seasons and will be looking to add depth to the squad after each competing in just one race in 2012.
While there is unquestioned leadership among the returnees, the 2013 squad is defined by an influx of new, talented freshmen that will be essential in helping the team accomplish what it hopes to in the new season.
In all, seven new faces signed on to compete for The Pirates this season, all bringing extensive cross country experience that coach John Moon hopes will aid in elevating the team to new heights.
As a former Rhode Island Class C cross country champion and multiple time All-State selection, Moon expects Victor Ricci (Narragansett, R.I.) to lead a group littered with individuals coming off highly-decorated high school careers that will surprise the competition.
Newcomers Sean Kip (Union, N.J.), Alex Mallue (Jackson, Ohio) and Ryan Moumblow (Staten Island, N.Y.) all bring with them a bevy of individual accolades as well as a championship pedigree. Kip was an All-Conference and All-County performer for a Roselle Catholic team that won two conference titles during his career while Mallue earned All-League honors and was part of a Jackson squad that collected back-to-back county championships.
Moumblow is also no stranger to success as he helped lead Staten Island Technical High School to borough championships in cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track, ultimately placing third in New York City at the cross country meet.
A two-time All-Kentucky performer, Cameron Quisenberry (Owensboro, Ky.) adds another accomplished presence to the squad after finishing his career with three consecutive top-25 individual finishes at the AAA state meet for Daviess County High School.
Walter Grosenheider (Madison, Wisc.) and Bob Knee (Indian Wells, Calif.) are both former multi-sport varsity athletes who captained their squads as seniors and will provide a further boost for the Pirates as they are part of a group that Moon believes is the strongest from top to bottom that Seton Hall has fielded in years.
“We lost Jared who was our senior leader and a very tough runner,” said Moon. “It’s hard to replace a guy like Jared right away but what we have now is a group that is running well together and I believe our team will be even better than last season.”
Each of the seven newcomers comes from a different state, a collection that spans the continental United States and speaks to the universal appeal of running for coach Moon and the Pirates.
“I am honored to coach these kids,” Moon said as he enters his 42nd season at The Hall. “They bring such energy and passion to training and are working so hard to help us get where we want to go. It is a pleasure to be around this group every day.”
The 2013 schedule shakes out very similarly to the 2012 slate as eight of the nine meets will be repeated from a year ago. A trip to Newark, Del. for the Delaware Invitational in mid-September replaces the Asics-Embry Riddle Classic and the BIG EAST Championship shifts from the familiar confines of Van Cortlandt Park to Wisconsin where it will be hosted by Marquette to conclude the first season of the new-look conference.
“In cross country, the new conference is still going to be one of the toughest in the nation,” Moon proclaimed. “Georgetown, Marquette and Providence were near the top of the league even before the switch and that’s the level that we are striving for. I’m hoping this team can impress with what they do at the championship meet this season.”
On the eve of their first meet of the season – the Monmouth XC Kickoff at Thompson Park in Lincroft, N.J. – there is little question whether the Pirates are ready to take that next step in their progression.
“We’re excited,” said Moon. “Our kids are eager to show what they can do and they have a great attitude as well as a feeling that other teams are going to have to run their best to beat them. We’re looking forward to a great season."