DeRosa takes first at Albany Invitational

By Melissa Turtinen, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts cross country teams had an outstanding weekend with senior Christina DeRosa taking first place at the Albany Invitational.

The men’s team finished third out of 26 teams, while the women finished fourth out of 29 squads.

“I was pleased with the meet,” men’s coach Ken O’Brien said. “The team responded well with making some improvements in the way we competed last week. We ran a little better as a team and individuals. We ran really well.”

Both squads’ next meet will be the Atlantic 10 Championships on Oct. 27 at Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia.

The men’s team was led by junior Peter Fortunato, who took 18th individually with a time of 25 minutes, 51.7 seconds. This was Fortunato’s second career cross country race; he normally runs the middle-distance in track and field.

The rest of the Minutemen’s top five finished out with sophomore Nicolai Naranjo (20th), junior Josh Boone (29th), junior Mathew Weissinger (39th) and freshman Scott Vander Molen (46th).

“For 85 or 90 percent of the runners it was their best time of the year,” O’Brien said. “That breeds confidence.”

The Minutewomen were led by DeRosa, who had a personal best time and set a course record with 17:21. This was her second event win of her career, first for a cross country race.

DeRosa averaged a 5:36 mile throughout the race, 10 seconds less than what she has been running, according to women’s coach Julie LaFreniere.

“Christina DeRosa ran the best race of her collegiate career,” LaFreniere said. “She stepped up to very stiff competition.”

According to LaFreniere, at the end of the race DeRosa tends to get “outkicked” if she is running with another person.

“I could see [DeRosa and a Brown runner] coming with one fourth of a mile to go – they were neck and neck. That’s usually when she can’t shift down and run a whole lot faster, she didn’t allow that to happen yesterday,” said LaFreniere. “She told me that she saw that ribbon and said I just wanted to break that tape. I was presently surprised that she was able to open up a small gap [between her and the runner from Brown].”

The rest of the women finished close behind with red shirted freshman Shiyi Zan finishing second for the Minutewomen and taking 17th. Zan has been ill with a respiratory virus.

“She isn’t 100 percent but she ran quite well,” LaFreniere said.

Freshman Lauren Stocker finished in 18th place with the same time as Zan. She set a personal record and ran the best race of her collegiate career, according to LaFreniere.

Senior Amber Sayer took 28th place in her first race since the home meet in September.

Gina Perno finished at 77th and LaFreniere said she had never run that fast in her life.

“They are getting right where they need to be,” LaFreniere said. “I think they redeemed themselves from last weekend’s performance. I couldn’t be happier. “I think when you have 5 out of 6 of your top runners setting personal records they are doing the right thing.”

LaFreniere believes that this meet has really helped the team prepare for the upcoming Atlantic 10 Championships.

“I think [Saturday’s meet] has given positive feedback, especially to the freshman, that all of their hard work this fall has paid off. I think it’s given them confidence,” LaFreniere said. “I’m looking forward to this week’s amount of work. The athletes have to tighten their screws mentally and they are excited for the rest of the season. It put a spark in the team.”

Melissa Turtinen can be reached at [email protected]