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Men’s cross country closes out 2012 season with 8th place finish at IC4A’s

The Massachusetts men’s cross country team finished up its season at the IC4A Championships in Bronx, N.Y., Friday, giving some of their younger runners a chance to compete in a championship race.

The team sent eight freshmen, one sophomore and two juniors to compete in the race. With the exception of two players, the entire squad had not competed since at least the Rothenberg Race back on Oct. 19.

Despite this, the Minutemen held their own against the other teams’ top runners, finishing eighth out of the 16 competing teams. Men’s cross country coach Ken O’Brien said the team’s performance in the race was an indication of the team’s depth and enthusiasm.

“Their finish was great, and that did show the fact that I think this younger group is at a pretty good position to supply us with a lot of depth and balance in the future,” O’Brien said. “But the other thing I thought was really heartening is what kind of enthusiasm that they showed as younger freshmen athletes in their first year here… where they kept their training and they kept their excitement up about racing with three or four weeks before they actually could get to that race.

“I thought that enthusiasm over that period showed a lot for their psychological and mental approach towards their sport,” he said.

Freshman Daniel Sheldon finished first on the team and 21st overall out of the 171 competing runners with a time of 26:48.6 for his first team-high finish of the season. Junior Jared Reddy finished second on the team and 32nd overall with a time of 27:04.4 for his third top two finish of the season.

Sheldon and Reddy were the only runners on the squad who had competed recently, having run in the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships last weekend, but O’Brien wanted to give them an extra workout – especially since Reddy had the flu last month, missed a lot of training and underperformed in the last two races.

Freshman Benjamin Thomas finished third on the team and 36th overall with a time of 27:07.6 for his highest finish of his collegiate career.

Sophomore Zach Florence finished fourth for the team and 38th overall at 27:10.9 and freshman Miles Hodge finished fifth on the team and 44th overall with a time of 27:21.8, for his best team finish in his young college career.

Freshman Quentin Stipp and junior Paul Merriman finished back-to-back, with Stipp finishing sixth on the team and 65th overall at 27:47.6 and Merriman finishing seventh for the team and 66th overall at 27:50.1.

Freshman Jacob LeBlanc finished eighth for the team and 75th overall at 28:01.3, and freshman Khampasong Haleudeth finished ninth on the team and 87th overall at 28:18.8. Freshman Sam Burke finished 10th on the team and 102nd overall at 28:38.3, and freshman Nick Patterson rounded things off for the team at 121st overall with a time of 29:37.5.

O’Brien said that the future of the team looks bright, and that if the younger guys keep up their enthusiasm and work hard, they could become talented runners.

“A little patience and continuous development, I think, not only will they be deep to add a lot of balance to our team, but I think they’ll improve a lot to also end up having some individual excellence in that group as well,” O’Brien said.

 

Jesse Mayfield-Sheehan can be reached at jmayfiel@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @JGMS88.

 

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