Time to Run with NYIT Cross Country

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The Men’s and Women’s Cross country team under head coach  Fred Benlein have been training vigorously during the pre-season and are ready for the upcoming 2011-2012 season. The returning Men’s roster consists of senior Nicolas Koiyet, junior Elphas Kimutai and Filip Van Eylen, sophomores Paolo Acuna and Craig Fried and freshman Christian Barton. The Women’s team consists of seniors Jackline Toek and Yvonne Boinett and sophomores Shekeila Campbell, Gladys Kimutai, Jessica Nowack.

One returning member who has earned rave reviews is junior Elphas Kimutai, a native of Eldoret in Kenya, a country famed for its distance runners. Elphas is hoping to build off the success of last year and has come into this season with high expectations of him. Last year, Elphas was named the East Coast Conference player of the year and he started off the year on a excellent note by being named the ECC preseason male runner of the year. Coach Benlein has high praise for Elphas “Last year he won easily and quite frankly, he’s at a much higher level this year and he’s about a minute ahead of  last year, he’s really ready to run this year , I think he’ll dominate this conference and I think he’ll be a major player in the eastern region”. Even though Elphas was considered a top runner last year, he has improved his overall game this year, specifically his leadership. “Our greatest strength is Elphas. Outside his tremendous talent as a runner…he has challenged himself this year to become a leader,” says coach Benlein. Elphas went to an ECC retreat where he learned new leadership skills. Elphas was then promoted to captain after his increased input on improving the team and increased dedication to making the team better.

Jackline Toek, a senior, is another returning member of the women’s cross country team. She has been looking strong in the preseason and has come into the season with an aggressive attitude. Said Jackline “I am so ambitious to get to the nationals and at least be the ECC champion for this year”. Another incoming player that is expected to have an immediate impact is incoming freshmen Gladys Kimutai. Coach Benlein expects her to be a strong ECC contender along with Toek. Gladys has just moved from Kenya, a move which only exasperates the difficulty of managing cross country and her school priorities. Gladys’s natural passion for running is helping her overcome and adjust to living in America. “Running comes from the bottom of the heart…it takes a lot of determination and courage,” she says.

Coach Benlein’s 30 years of coaching experience and excellent training regimens have the team well prepared for the season. He not only wants to see his runners succeed this season but hopes to build the foundation for a successful and strong cross country team for the future. “We want to bring in not just more talented runners, but leaders, good academic and athletic people that will build a really special team…that is my long term goal.” Benlein said.

The official cross country season started on September 11th at Fordham Fiasco at Fordham University. Elphas Kimutai participated in the men’s 5 mile run and finished in 7th place out of 155 runners with a time of 25 minutes and 29.19 seconds. Nicholas Koiyet(26th),Craig Fried(100th), Christian Barton (124th), Filip Van Eylen(126th) and Paolo Acuna(147th) rounded out the scoring for the Bears. The team overall finished in 11th place.

The women’s team participated in 5 kilometer run. Jackline Toek finished in 28th place out of 148 runners with a time of 21 minutes and 33.49 seconds. Yvonne Boinett(97th), Jessica Nowack(116th) and Shekeila Campbell(133rd) also raced for the NYIT bears.

This meet is followed by the Monmouth Invitational, Codfish Bowl, Paul Short Run, NJIT Highlander invitational, Princeton invitational followed by the ECC championship on October 22nd at CW post in which the top runners go to the NCAA regional on November 6th and the NCAA championship on November 19th.

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