Manhattan College Cross Country Invitational returns to Van Cortlandt Park for 51st year
Saturday's rain wasn't enough to stop the Manhattan College Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park – the nation's largest single-day high school cross country meet.
With an estimated 8,000 runners from schools in 13 different states competing, local runners used words like "overwhelming," and "intimidating" when describing the meet to News 12.
But that's nothing new. Manhattan College Director of Cross Country, Track and Field Kerri Gallagher, who competed in the meet when she was in high school and now helps run it, says she remembers it as "such a humbling and also an eye-opening experience.”
“I just remember being in awe of how much talent was out there, and kind of grateful to be exposed to it," she said.
That level of talent means a unique chance for runners from the Bronx to see just how they stack up against a quantity and quality of competition that they might not see any other time this year. Fordham Prep senior Luke Gomprecht admits "we're always sort of conserving our energy for the bigger meets and this is definitely one of the ones where we look to push.”
Just about every runner in the meet's 42 races, from youth to freshman through varsity levels, is giving their all, including Bronx Science junior Alexandra Davidescu, who described herself as having "a little bit more than normal pre-race jitters because it does feel like a higher-stakes meet."
Riverdale Country School freshman Will Davis also felt the spotlight in his first time at the event.
“It's insane, the atmosphere is great - it's probably the hardest I've pushed myself in a while, but, so much fun, especially crossing the finish line...it's really rewarding," he said.
While the rain might have made it tougher for family and fans cheering the student-athletes on, local runners welcomed it.
"We can use this to our advantage for sure," Gomprecht said. "We run here once a week so, we definitely have a good feel of the course."
In addition to the races, the day also included the induction of four new members into the Van Cortlandt Park Cross Country Hall of Fame.