Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass places in top 5 of A-10 Conference Championships

It’s a mantra in sports that some teams live by: when things get tough, come together.

On Saturday, as the Massachusetts cross country teams headed to Saint Louis to compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference Championships, they knew they would not only face stiff competition but also adverse weather conditions. Their response to it, however, would prove that both teams were prepared.

The men’s and women’s teams turned in a gritty performance as they placed 2nd and 3rd respectively, in this weekend’s conference championship. Coaches from each side expressed that they were proud of the way their team battled and came together in such a big race.

Massachusetts coach Ken O’Brien was pleased with his team’s effort and mental tenacity on Saturday.

“In one word: it was muddy. [Bad conditions] can cause a physical and mental distraction, but I thought our team really didn’t let it bother us,” he said.

The course had undoubtedly been affected by the severe rainfall that had occurred in Missouri over the past week. The region, which tends to be relatively dry in October, received over ten inches of rain this month, including two to four inches just days preceding the race.

Although it did not rain Saturday, the course which is constructed on grasslands was wet, rough and muddy. UMass though, combated bad weather with several strong performances.

“I have nothing but positive feelings about this race. [The team] couldn’t have raced harder,” O’Brien said.

Five Minutemen runners placed in the top 20, and junior David Johnson came less than a half second to placing in the top fifteen and taking home All-Conference Honors. Three Minutemen earned A-10 Conference Honors by placing in the top 15. Junior Kevin Johnson lead the Minutemen as he finished seventh, with a time of 26:57:8. Senior Andrew McCain stepped up in his last conference championship meet by placing 10th overall with a time of 27:06.3.

In just his sophomore year, Zachary Gordon was able to take home All-Conference Honors by finishing 14th in the meet, with a time of 27:13.8. It took a team effort to hold off Dayton, which finished in third place, just three points behind UMass.

The Minutewomen earned their highest finish in the A-10 Championship since 2000 with their third place finish.

“I was ecstatic. I was extremely happy” UMass coach Julie Lafrieneire said.

Prior to the race, Lafrieniere had hoped to place in the top five, which would have been an improvement for the Minutewomen program. UMass, however, was able to exceed her expectations.

Courtney Baldwin, who has been essential late in the season, turned in yet another impressive performance on Saturday. The freshman finished 9th overall with a time of 20:09. Not only did her performance garner her All-Conference Honors, but she also became just the second UMass runner ever to receive the A-10 Rookie of the Year award.

“She truly is the rookie of the year,” Lafrieneire said.

Baldwin was a soccer player throughout high school and has made a remarkably smooth transition to collegiate cross country. In the three races she has run, she’s lead the Minutewomen each time.

Several of Baldwin’s teammates had noteworthy performances as well this weekend, including junior co-captain Shiyi Zan, who finished 17th overall.

Lafrienere noted that while other teams wore down due to the conditions, her athletes seemed to hold their own and come on strong. Zan was one of the runners who seemingly raced past her opponents during the final stretch.

Junior Karen Roa’s time of 20:40 helped place her in the top three for the Minutewomen and 19th overall. Roa had been struggling with illness earlier this season but returned to form on Saturday.

“Every time that kid toes the line, she gives it everything she has,” Lafrieneire said.

Freshman Danielle Allocco also came up big this weekend with her time of 21:09 and 38th overall finish in such a strong field.

Both teams will look to continue their successful seasons in two weeks as they compete in the NCAA Regional Qualifiers on Nov. 14.

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

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