By Natalie Fiorilli | The Duquesne Duke
For most teams, establishing a consistent winning record often leads to the expectation of being contenders for a title each season.
The Duquesne men and women’s cross-country teams had high goals for the Atlantic 10 Championship in Mechanicsville, Virginia this past weekend. The women were reigning champs in 2013 and 2014, and the men placed second last year, along with four other times since their last title in 2005.
Unfortunately for the women’s team, they couldn’t secure a third-straight A-10 title after taking second place. The Richmond Spiders took first by just a point.
Coach James Lear explained that although the group ran aggressively, they simply fell short.
“We knew that Richmond would be one of the main contenders for the women’s team title,” Lear said. “The women are not happy, but they know that they took a great shot at winning.”
The Dukes had two top-10 finishers led by sophomore Jenny DelSignore, who took sixth place, an improvement from her 10th place finish last season. Junior Valerie Palermo followed right behind, taking ninth.
DelSignore said that while it is nice to have a good individual performance, winning as a team is more important.
“I was happy with what I was able to do for the team, especially after coming back from a heel injury over the summer,” DelSignore said. “It’s hard losing by one point after winning the past two years, but this will motivate us for next year.”
The men’s team took sixth, finishing behind St. Joseph’s, UMass and Davidson, among others.
The Red & Blue found another sophomore leader in Rico Galassi, who crossed the line first for Duquesne and 18th total. Freshman Hunter Wharrey took second for the Dukes and 26th overall in the race.
Senior Aaron Wilkinson, who completed the race third for Duquesne, admitted the team had higher aspirations for the race.
“We knew it was going to be a tough race,” Wilkinson said. “Unfortunately we just couldn’t put it together on that day, and that’s sometimes the harsh reality of racing. With that in mind though, everyone is still motivated and we are definitely going into the regional race in hopes of some redemption.”
It was a tough loss, according to junior Autumn Greba, who finished fourth for the Dukes.
“For the seniors, this was their last A-10 Championship, and we didn’t get to bring it home,” Greba said. “Thankfully our season isn’t over, and, if anything, we learned how much we need to lean on each other.”
While the teams may not have recorded another A-10 title in the books this year, the season isn’t over yet. The Dukes are set to race in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals, which takes place in Princeton, New Jersey on Nov. 13.
“We’ll keep doing what we have been doing all year for the next two weeks,” Lear said. “The women have had two good 6K races and should be ready to finish in the top seven or eight of the region. Hopefully, the men will do better at 10K than they have at 8K.”