Cross-country teams to compete in New England Championships

By Eric Mansfield

Courtesy UMass Athletics

The Massachusetts cross-country teams will travel to Franklin Park in Boston this Saturday to compete in the New England Championships. The meet will include many of the top teams from New England including Providence, Harvard, Dartmouth and Boston College.

This meet will not only include Division I runners but Division II and III as well.

“New England in particular has good Division III programs,” women’s coach Julie LaFreniere said.

Some of the top teams from Division III competing against the Minutewomen will be Middlebury and Williams.

Men’s coach Ken O’Brien said that this race isn’t exactly what it used to be.

In recent years the NEC has been made more into an invitational meet rather than something teams look to gear up for at the end of the season. This meet is in the middle of the season, coming before the conference championship and NCAA Regionals.

O’Brien said that this meet offers a different perspective than what it had previously before it became more of an invitational, however, it’s still exciting.

Part of that excitement comes from the course’s historical significance.

Franklin Park has been “recognized U.S. wide as one of the best [courses],” O’Brien said.

It has also been used to host other championship races in the past.

This meet will also be exciting for UMass as a majority of the men’s runners have ran on this course in high school. The location for those meets rotate, but O’Brien said that most of the runners have already run on it at least twice.

Some of the top runners will be resting this week, giving other members of the team an opportunity to show they can be in the forefront and put the point-scoring on their shoulders.

LaFreniere said that senior Gina Perno is ready to go for the Minutewomen after recovering from her sinus infection and that all of the other runners have been looking good in practice.

“I think they’re ready to pop a good race,” LaFreniere said.

LaFreniere said that running against some of the top programs gives UMass an advantage and that it can only enhance her team’s performance.

LaFreniere said that she is really looking for Courtney Baldwin, Karen Roa, Perno and Elizabeth Fisk to lead the way. If the other three can close the gap between themselves and those four, they should have a successful race.

Both teams are coming off of disappointing finishes at the Paul Short Invitational, where the women took 32nd place out of 41 teams and the men took 30th out of 42.

Eric Mansfield can be reached at [email protected]