The Rutgers men’s cross country visited Columbus, Ohio, last weekend at the Big Ten Championships.
The Scarlet Knights finished last with 386 points, behind Ohio State’s 317 and Iowa’s 224. Wisconsin, the reigning champion, won again with 56 points, led by first overall finisher Oliver Hoare. Hoare finished the 8K race with a time of 23:50.9.
Rutgers’ finish did not satisfy anyone.
“We wanted to race a lot better than we did," said senior Cole Pschunder. “We did not have a good team performance … overall a disappointing day for us.”
Pschunder finished 92nd overall.
The Knights started off the race strong, with Pschunder hovering around the 15th spot.
“It could’ve been a mental thing," Pschunder said. "I think we settled too much in the middle of the race and we fell back.”
Pschunder finished the race a few seconds in front of a duo from the Buckeyes. He was in front of them the whole race, and decided to pace himself with an Illinois runner.
After the race, Pschunder remembered head coach Mike Mulqueen telling the team members to rely on their training and focus throughout the race.
“He was disappointed in how we did and he wanted us to race better in the middle of the race," Pschunder said.
Pschunder agreed with Mulqueen and knows one of the most important ways to recover.
Rutgers has approximately two weeks between races in that time without competition. Pschunder said they will “remind (themselves) how fit we are. We have been working out really well.”
This years’ cross country team is full of underclassmen who are trying to adjust to the collegiate level, and now they have to adjust to the most intense part of their schedule.
Pschunder is extremely happy with the progress the freshmen have made.
“They have been doing very well with it. It’s really hard for freshmen to compete at this level," Pschunder said. "It’s really good experience for the young guys to go against some of the best runners in the country.”
Thankfully, there are more races left in the season with the next one being the NCAA Regionals on November 15th. Pschunder and the entire team are ready to go and know.
“We are a lot better then we performed this weekend," Pschunder said. "This is definitely the defining race of the season and we need to come back strong.”
The Knights will hit the road again this weekend for the NCAA Regionals in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Last season, alumnus Conor Murphy led Rutgers with a 17th-place finish at the event. He was named an All-NCAA Regional honoree for his time of 31:48 in the 10K event.
Pschunder ran a time of 32:08 while junior Patrick Walsh ran a 33:06 time. The team combined for 368 points, good for 16th place.
New Jersey rival Princeton took home the NCAA Regionals top spot last year while Penn State was the highest Big Ten school, capturing a fifth-place finish. This marks a return to Pennsylvania for the event, with the Nittany Lions, who hosted it in University Park in 2018.
There were 24 teams that traveled to Penn State's campus last season for the NCAA Regionals. Seton Hall and NJIT also participated in the event.
For updates on the Rutgers men's cross country team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.