There are new faces on the cross country roster at Monroe College. This year marks a change as long-time cross country head coach Shirvon Greene, who was the associate head coach for track and field, is now in charge of both programs. Cross country began its season last week at the Jaspers XC Invitational, hosted by Manhattan College. Aaliyah Headley was the top finisher for the Mustangs.
Monroe typically has a roster with both locals and international student-athletes. Unfortunately, two runners from overseas expected to join the team this season were unable to get visa appointments in a timely fashion, so a couple of walk-ons have been added.
Those walk-ons are skilled track athletes from Monroe’s Bronx campus. Monroe joined the track and cross country programs from its Bronx campus and New Rochelle campus with Greene overseeing both and new assistant coaches added. “After I realized that I wasn’t going to get some top runners, I moved them into cross country,” Greene said. “This is their first time doing it to help the team.”
Headley, from Guyana, and Kayla Johnson, from Port Jervis, New York, are expected to be the most prominent runners. Johnson is typically a middle distance runner, competing in the 800 and 1,500 meters. “Kayla Johnson went to the Junior Olympics,” said Greene. “She ran for a club in the Bronx, and her coach recommended for her to go to Monroe.”
Growing up, Headley trained with the same coach and at the same club as previous Monroe stand-outs Aaliyah Moore, who is now a student-athlete at the University of Kansas, and Joanna Archer, now at Texas Tech. “[Aaliyah] is more of a 5K and 10K runner,” said Greene.
Most cross country seasons, the runners compete at six or seven regular season meets, but this year will be a bit shorter. Next up for them is the Golden Eagles Invitational hosted by St. Joseph’s College on Sept. 30. “Because they’re new to it, we’re doing four regular season meets and two postseason meets, the regional championships and the NJCAA Championships (they must qualify for the latter),” said Greene.
Developing the potential in cross country is exciting. “I get to see the raw talent,” Greene said. “It’s starting over again; we get to mold them. … I hope they’re able to place in the region and we’re able to reward them with a trip to the national championships in Tallahassee, Florida in November. We need to get them through these four meets unscathed and ready to go.”