Minutemen finish second despite changes to course
The Massachusetts men’s and women’s cross-country teams may not have felt particularly at home as they prepared to compete in the Minuteman Invitational on Saturday, as flooding from Tropical Storm Irene rendered their normal course unusable.
Even with the shortened 4.3 mile run and an alternative course to run, both teams proved that they could overcome the challenge.
The Minutemen managed to come away with 48 points, which put them in second place in their six-team field, while the Minutewomen earned 99 points and came in fourth place out of the five teams competing.
Sean Duncan, a Gardner, Mass. native, was the top competitor for the Minutemen, racing ahead of the pack to come in third-place overall. He managed to make his way across the finish line in 22-minutes, 16.91 seconds, less than a minute slower than the winner. Duncan, a graduate student at UMass, returned to the course for the first time since the 2009 Atlantic 10 Championship, after he did not compete last year as a senior.
The next three Minutemen crossed the finish line in succession, earning ninth through 11th place, respectively. Redshirt senior Patrick McAllister was the first of the three to cross in 22-minutes, 49.20 seconds, while sophomore Antony Taylor locked in 10th place just under a second later, in 22-minutes, 54.79 seconds. Patrick McGowan finished off the scoring, as he came at 22-minutes, 55.68 seconds.
John O’Shea rounded out the top-five for the Minutemen, finishing slightly further behind, in 15th place overall. He clocked in at 23-minutes, 10.93 seconds.
O’Shea and Taylor have started their UMass careers off with a bang. After the Amherst Invitational, they’ve both finished in the top-five for the Minutemen in each of their two collegiate events. Taylor led the squad at last week’s Bryant Invitational, while O’Shea came in third place.
“I was hoping the younger guys wouldn’t take a step back, you know, with the front-runners returning to the scene, and rather take a step forward, and that’s exactly what they did,” said UMass coach Ken O’Brien, in an interview with UMassAthletics.com.
Karen Roa, on the other hand, is a tested veteran for the Minutewomen. She led the way for the Minutewomen for a second-straight week, finishing fourth overall, in 17-minutes, 36.01 seconds.
Rachel Hilliard and Danielle McNiff were the next two to make it across for the Minutewomen, earning 25th and 26th place respectively. Hilliard locked in her second-straight top five finish in 19-minutes, 5.34 seconds, while McNiff came in directly behind her, nipping at her heels in 19-minutes, 7.16 seconds.
Sarah Barrett and Colleen Wetherbee rounded out the top-five for the Maroon and White. Barrett came in 30th place overall, in 19-minute, 17.53 seconds, while Wetherbee earned 39th, in 19-minutes, 41.26 seconds.
After a week of no competition, both teams will travel to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Penn. to take part in the Paul Short Invitational on Sept. 30. Last year, the men’s team came in 30th out of 42 teams at this event, while the women’s squad came in 31st out of 41.
Ben Lambert can be reached at email@example.com.