Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

Cross country looks to upperclassmen to get back to A-10’s

 

The Massachusetts cross country teams will travel to New Hampshire for the Dartmouth Invitational on Saturday, with the men looking to take their first step towards back-to-back Atlantic 10 titles.

The Minutemen, who edged Duquesne by one point at last season’s A-10 Championships, will face a new set of challenges this season. On paper, the team didn’t lose many players, but the caliber of athletes that left the roster puts the team in a difficult position. The team will have to work hard to fill the void left by the departure of two of the team’s top performers, Nils Fischer and three-year captain Jesse Reigner. However, UMass coach Ken O’Brien believes the roster is loaded with experienced athletes who can step up and lead.

“As the indoor and outdoor [track and field] seasons progressed, I noticed some of the younger competitors step up and improve performance-wise and mentally. They started to become active leaders and … accept responsibility,” O’Brien said.

While the younger members on the team are improving, the Minutemen have experienced veterans to support them in seniors Andrew Mulvaney, Jonathan Pierce, Nicolai Naranjo and Andrew McCann. Mulvaney had a particularly strong season in 2008. He posted the team’s best time in both of the meets in which Fischer did not compete, and finished two places behind him (fourth) when the two went head-to-head at the A-10 Championships.

Pierce finished first on the team at that meet, and also had an impressive track and field season. The same could be said for McCann and Naranjo, who consistently finished top five on the team.

“We have a schedule which is relatively consistent [with those of recent years],” O’Brien said. “We use the first two meets to shake out the competitors. It is a schedule we are familiar with and can plan around.”

Meanwhile, the women’s team will try to get on track early after a sub-par 2008 season. Redshirt junior Shiyi Zan looks to lead the Minutewomen once again, and will be at the forefront of a talented group of sophomores and juniors.

Zan was undoubtedly the team’s best competitor last season, notching the team’s best time whenever she competed. In addition, she also had  a strong track and field season this past spring.

Along with Zan, sophomores Karen Roa and Claire Pettit consistently finished in the top three, and never finished lower than fourth on the team in any competition. Roa was second on the team in five races, while Pettit finished second once, and third three times.

Juniors Gina Perno, Elizabeth Fisk and Kristin Darling could also factor into determining the team’s success. Perno was one of the team’s best performers last season and is poised to take the next step. She finished in the top five on the team in all of her races, while Fisk and Darling consistently hovered just above that mark.

UMass starts the season off with two smaller competitions. After the Dartmouth Invitational, the teams return to Amherst to host four-way meets. The men will take on Connecticut, Maine and Vermont while the women will take on the latter two in addition to Boston College.

Mike Mastone can be reached at mmastone@student.umass.edu.

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