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Cross Country teams to host five-team meets

It usually happens just once a year, and both the Massachusetts men’s and women’s cross country teams hope to take full advantage of it.

On Saturday both teams will host five-team meets, as they will race in their only home meet of the season. The men’s team is looking to win for the fourth consecutive year. UMass men’s coach Ken O’Brien would like to believe that similar to other team sports, there is a home-field advantage that contributes to their success.

“When you have the chance to have a home contest, just like any team sport you hope some type of home-court advantage.” O’Brien said. “With running, it still applies. The [runners] are used to training and running on [these] facilities.”

The men’s team will face off against in-town rival Amherst College, as well as Vermont, UConn, and Maine. The team is coming off a strong second-place finish in the Dartmouth Invitational last weekend, as four members were able to record top 10 finishes.

The strong showing placed them ahead of schools like Boston College and Quinnipiac. Seniors Jonathan Pierce and Andrew Mulvaney picked up right where they left off last season, as they both were able to turn in very strong performances. Pierce finished fourth overall in the 8K race, with a time of 26 minutes, 2.9 seconds, whereas Mulvaney came in seventh. The team also received top 10 finishes from sophomores Jeffrey Hill, and Zachary Gordon.

O’Brien is confident the team will put forth a strong effort this weekend, and furthermore is looking for a first-place-finish in tomorrow’s race. His high hopes are based upon to the team’s overall experience and camaraderie.

“This team is a fairly deep and older team,” he explained. “I’m fortunate with this year’s team. We have a close group of runners. They have a tendency to push each other in the race. They just don’t want to let the other guy down.”

The Minutewomen are also set to host their five-way meet this weekend, as they will compete against Amherst, Maine, Vermont and Boston College. In last year’s event, junior Shiyi Zan ran past all the competition, as she finished first overall in the race.

The team is coming off of a third place finish in the Fairfield Invitational in Connecticut last weekend. Junior co captain Lauren Stocker led the way last weekend, finishing eighth overall. Sophomores Claire Petit and Karen Roa were able to make significant contributions, as they both were top-15 finishers. Gina Perno was also able to place in the top 15 as well.

The men’s race starts at approximately 11 a.m. The women’s event will kick off shortly after, at 11:30 a.m. The UMass cross country course is located behind the Wysocki House which is on the north side of campus.

Jeffrey Engmann can be reached via email at jengmann@student.umass.edu.

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