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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 woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

UMass cross-country prepares for A-10 Championship in Richmond, Va.

The Massachusetts men’s cross-country team is hoping that its long break going into the highly anticipated Atlantic-10 championships proves to be beneficial.

Collegian File Photo

Having not raced since the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 19, the Minutemen have had plenty of time to prepare for the meet that everyone has been waiting for.

The team was predicted to place eighth in the preseason polls, but the surprising emergence of the underclassmen has turned heads this season.

Although the team is led by upperclassman Antony Taylor, the bulk of the team’s scoring this season has come from first- and second-year runners, including Ben Groleau, Miles Hodge, Daniel Sheldon and two-time A-10 Rookie of the Week winner Blake Croteau.

What started off as a rebuilding year for UMass coach Ken O’Brien has turned into a season with many high notes coming as early as the UMass Invitational that opened the season.

In the A-10 championships, the Minutemen will try to capture their first title in the 13-team event since 2008. That task was made a little easier when defending champion Butler left the conference in the recent offseason.

With their heap of talent led by veteran Taylor, and experience against some of the top teams in the conference and in the country, UMass looks to make some noise down in Richmond, Va. this Saturday.

Minutewomen gaining momentum

Throughout the season, UMass women’s cross-country coach Julie LaFreniere has said that the focus of the team is to perform at their peak when it matters most. She was referring to the A-10 championships this upcoming Saturday.

The Minutewomen have come together at what seems to be the perfect time after they tied with Providence for first place this Friday at the CCSU mini-meet, even with an injured Rachel Hilliard (who is expected to return this weekend).

Freshman standout Christine Davis is coming off her best finish of the season and was named Atlantic 10 Performer of the Week and UMass Athlete of the Week as a result.

Although LaFreniere is enjoying the spotlight, she is looking out for the team’s cohesion on Saturday.

“There’s no one particular person for this team to do well,” LaFreniere said. “We need to have seven or eight people get out hard and maintain, and that’s what’ll make them successful, not one or two people. That’s not a team.”

LaFreniere pointed out that there was only a 22-second gap between their top five finishers on Friday, which has made her excited about the team’s ability to run together effectively.

With all the positive news, LaFreniere and the rest of the runners are excited to compete against the best in the A-10 after receiving a No. 8 seed in the preseason rankings.

“This is the best they’ve looked all season,” LaFreniere said. “They’ve worked really hard over the past three weeks and they’re feeling pretty excited.”

The highly anticipated race is one that the whole team has been focused on, and with a healthy Alexandra Purdue-Smithe, an emerging Davis and the consistency of Hillard, it seems that the team will continue its success against the conference’s best.

The men’s team will compete at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and the women will start at 10:50 a.m.

Frank Corona can be reached at fcorona@umass.edu.

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