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Duncan, Roa lead respective teams this season

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

After beginning the season with strong performances at the Bryant University Invitational and Minuteman Invitational, the Massachusetts men’s and women’s cross country teams have kept up their momentums over the past few weeks.

The men’s team finished 27th out of 45 teams at the Paul Short Invitational on Sept. 30, then followed that up by earning seventh place in a 39-team field at the New England Championships on Oct. 8. The women’s team, on the other hand, finished 38th out of 45 teams at the Paul Short Invitational, 13th at the New England Championships and third out of four at the Rothenberg Race on Oct. 14.

Graduate student Sean Duncan has led the way for the Minutemen over the stretch. After losing all of last year to an injury, Duncan returned to the team with a vengeance, pacing the men’s squad in every meet he’s competed in this season.

Duncan even racked up several sterling overall finishes. At the Paul Short Invitational, he finished 86th out of 402 competitors, the best finish by a UMass harrier since Jonathan Pierce managed to earn 39th place in 2009. Duncan then followed that effort up with an even better one as he came in 12th out of 282 competitors at the New England Championships in 25 minutes, 10 seconds.

Sophomore Antony Taylor has been no slouch over the past few weeks either. He followed up a fantastic start to his UMass career – Taylor took first place for the Minutemen in his first-ever collegiate event at the Bryant Invitational, then followed that up with a 10th overall finish at the Minuteman Invitational.

At the Paul Short Invitational, Taylor finished in the team’s top-five for the third race in a row, locking in fourth-place on the team with a time of 26:06. Then, he made it four straight top-fives at the NEC, coming in on Duncan’s heels to finish second on the team.

On the women’s side of the action, senior Karen Roa has been steady. Roa has led the Minutewomen week-in and week-out this season, finishing first for the team in every race she’s competed in.

At the Paul Short Invitational, she earned 42nd place overall in 21:20. Then, at the NEC, Roa stepped up her performance to match the bigger stage, coming in 10th place overall in just 18:08.

Roa, however, did not compete in the recent Rothenberg Race, a smaller, four-team competition. That left the stage open for 2009 A-10 Rookie of the Year Courtney Baldwin, who earned her first first-place finish of the season with a time of 19:13.2.

Baldwin missed the first two races of the season, but has come on strong since returning to action. In addition to her performance at the Rothenberg Race, she finished third for UMass at the Paul Short Invitational and third at the NEC.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have one more race this month, as they’ll travel to Charlotte, N.C. for the A-10 championships on Oct, 29th.

Ben Lambert can be reached at wlambert@student.umass.edu.

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