Cross Country Stays Ready to Make Strides This Season

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Fordham’s cross country team will try to replace some key figures this season. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Alex Wolz, Assistant Sports Editor

You could say last year was a transitional one for Fordham Cross Country. Head coach of four decades Tom Dewey departed, and former runner, recruiting coordinator and then-assistant coach Brian Horowitz took over the team. While it was the end of an era, Horowitz was more than ready to take control and continue Fordham Cross Country’s storied success. He has absolutely accomplished that.

In his first year, Horowitz led the Rams to a terrific season on both the men’s and women’s sides. For the men, the highlight was an all-time best third-place finish at the A-10 Championships, led by Nicholas Raefski and NCAA Championship contender Ryan Kutch. 

The problem? Both of these names mentioned have graduated. With familiar faces gone, coach Horowitz would look to his freshman standouts and senior leaders to deliver yet another successful season.

However, those plans changed quickly due to COVID-19. Despite it being a multiseason sport, the fall cross country campaign was put on hold, and the team now hopes to conduct an indoor track season later this year, at the very least. Even with those difficulties, the goals have remained the same for Horowitz.

“We had a lot of positive things happen last year with both teams. Our men’s team was very excited about their third-place finish at conference but knew there was more work to be done. Our women’s team was very young, and we saw a lot of potential going into this year,” coach Horowitz said. “There haven’t been many things we can control lately. But lacing up your shoes each morning to go out for a run is certainly something all members of our team were able to do. So each day is treated as another opportunity to get better.”

Horowitz notes the challenge of uncertainty his team faces, but at the same time, the hope to play this season persists. “My fingers are still crossed for some sort of indoor track season this winter. We are hungry for competition,” he said. And that hunger has fed into everything that goes into being a cross country athlete off the field, which his players have held to a high standard.

“I think we are all on the same page and being of the mindset to get better each and every day. [The] big focus is on the non-track specific training,” Horowitz said. “We have to do the small things such as [getting] quality sleep, good nutrition, plenty of fluids and staying on top of our academics.”

Those little things may prove to make a big difference if a season were to occur this fall — a season that comes with large expectations regardless. One group that Fordham will be dependent upon is its sophomore class, looking to grow after a terrific debut season. Alexandra Thomas was a star on the women’s side, and Colin Flood made an immediate impact for the men. An A-10 All-Rookie performer last year, Flood is hoping for even more this season.

“Heading into the fall season, there was really only one objective for me, and that was to help the team win our first A-10 title. After finishing third as a team last year, I was really excited to come back with everyone and work towards that goal,” Flood said. “I’m always trying to stay motivated and we want to achieve things that haven’t been done here at Fordham.”

And as Horowitz stated, the team is ready to do just that, with a level of focus and drive that is bound to bleed onto the course. “The guys are all motivated and everyone wants to get better. It’s clearly not an ideal situation to be in, considering the circumstances, but we’re doing everything we can to get better,” said Flood. “We’re just taking it one day at a time and listening to what coach wants us to do. We want to be prepared for whatever may happen in the future.”

What exactly does their coach want them to do?

The answer is to remain consistent.

“I think it has definitely been a tough time. But in athletics there are always going to be highs and lows, said coach Horowitz. “You have to have confidence that they will pass and that you will get back to those positive moments. I like the quote ‘The best performers are not consistently great, but they are great at being consistent.’”  

Whenever and however the future does come, Fordham Cross Country will be ready.