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Ben Groleau takes second at A-10 championship finish, earns XC performer of the week

Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts cross country team arguably ran their best race of the season on Halloween, with a second place finish in Saturday’s Atlantic-10 Championship meet in Mechanicsville, Virginia.

But it was senior Ben Groleau who stole the show.

Groleau was awarded with A-10 men’s XC performer of the week, after he finished the course with a blazing time of 24:41.3 (5:01/mi) to earn second overall. The rest of the Minutemen followed suit and finished a total of 29-seconds behind first placed Saint Joseph’s. The Eagles finished with a score of 77, while UMass ended the meet with a score of 98.

Groleau’s second place finish was the best finish in program history at the A-10 championship meet.

“I was surprised to hear that I had the best performance at this meet in program history. I figured that this program had past A-10 champions,” Groleau said. “I wasn’t really thinking about getting this accolade. I just wanted to perform well for the team.”

The most impressive part of Groleau’s race Saturday was that he was in seventh place at  the 3,427 split. He was able to slowly but surely pass runners one at a time, reeling them in closer and closer. It was a gritty performance by the senior, which was properly represented by the conference accolade.

“I knew I had to get the team in a good position. Every place mattered,” Groleau said. “There were only five points between second and third place, and just three points between third and fourth place.”

Groleau’s performance Saturday marked his personal best for the season. Prior to the A-10 championship, his best in an 8k-race came Oct. 2 at the Paul Short Invitational where he finished with a time of 25:55. He finished 44th overall in that meet..

Groleau, who finished first amongst all UMass runners, was one of 10 that performed over the weekend. Junior Pablo Tavares finished second amongst Minutemen and 12th overall finishing with a 25:05.7 time. Daniel Sheldon (17th overall), Samuel Conway (24) and Jay McMahon (43) rounded out the top five performances for them.

“We’ve been working on staying in packs at practice during workouts, but at the end of the day, I have to race for me, and if the other guys can hang on, that’s great too,” Groleau said.

He added: “I think there is a good chance that we can at least repeat this performance if not better.”

 

Tyler Movessian can be reached at tmovsessian@umass.edu.

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