LaFreniere leads veteran team

By Melissa Turtinen, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts track and field teams are looking to veterans to lead the teams in the upcoming season.

Last year the Minutemen finished fourth out of 10 teams at the Atlantic 10 Championships and 12 out of 13 at the New England Championships in the indoor season. In the outdoor season the men took eighth out of 11 at the A-10 Championships and 11 out of 37 at the New England Championships.

This year, Rhode Island is picked to win the A-10 as they did last year, La Salle is picked to finish second and Charlotte finishing third. The Minutemen are picked to finish fourth, where they did last year.

The Minutemen have seasoned veterans and many distance runners coming off a successful cross country season in which the team was very versatile. They should finish where expected or better.

The Minutewomen are looking for a much better season this year compared to the last few years with a more experienced team and senior Christina DeRosa leading the way.

“Every meet we’re trying to get our athletes to perform their best,” said coach Julie LaFreniere.

This season the Minutewomen are hoping to improve their overall performance especially for the championship meets that start with the A-10 Championships on Feb. 16. They are also hoping that more people will qualify for the championship meets.

This season the women are stronger than in the past. This is because they have a well-rounded team compared to last year where they were below expectations due to several injuries and illnesses.

“The veteran runners are a different level than they were in the past,” said assistant coach Mark Gottdenker.

DeRosa is coming off of an impressive cross country season finishing first for her team in every race. She placed in the top five overall in every race except for one, winning two of them, the Albany Invitational and the Atlantic 10 Championships. During her cross country season DeRosa was named A-10 Student Athlete of the Year and Most Outstanding Performer at the 2007 Atlantic Championships.

“Christina DeRosa is one of the highest quality athletes on our team,” said Gottdenker.

Track has a variety of races that DeRosa excels in. In the past she has done extremely well in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters. If DeRosa scores high in a variety of events it will help the Minutewomen stand out this season and reach their goals.

“DeRosa has a chance to qualify for the NCAA in numerous events,” said Gottdenker.

This season their biggest A-10 competition comes from Charlotte, Rhode Island and La Salle. All three teams have a lot of depth, strength and are well rounded, according to Gottdenker.

Charlotte is expected to have a repeat win in the Atlantic 10 Championships this season, according to a poll done by the leagues head coaches. URI placed third last season and La Salle placed fourth.

Charlotte’s strongest event is sprints, URI excels in the jumping events and La Salle is best at distance races. Because of each team’s depth they are difficult to attack in any one event, the Minutewomen will have to be good in many events to do well against these three teams.

The women have gone through the injury and illness of last season and it has created a better team than in the past. The team is moving in the right direction, mentally and physically, according to Gottdenker.

“People are excited,” said Gottdenker. “It should make an interesting year.”

The Minutewomen hit the track for the first time on Jan. 11 for the Rhode Island New Year Classic.

Melissa Turtinen can be reached at [email protected]