Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass travels to Pittsburgh

Courtesy of UMass Athletics
The Massachusetts cross-country teams will travel to Schenely Park in Pittsburgh, Pa., Saturday for the Atlantic 10 Championship meet.

Both teams had this past weekend off, but two weeks ago, the men finished eighth at the Chili Pepper Festival in Arkansas and the women took fourth in the Rothenberg Race in Rhode Island.

UMass coach Ken O’Brien said that it’s always nice to have that “good taste in your mouth” from the previous meet, as the Minutemen competed with some nationally-ranked competition.

“[We’re] starting to show steady progress. We’re in a pretty good place,” O’Brien said. “This year’s [conference championship] is as tight a championship forecast as I can remember in recent years.”

While UMass is suffering from a few nagging injuries, O’Brien said common sense would say that a lot of other teams could be in the same boat at this point in the season.

O’Brien said he expects Richmond and Dayton to be tough competitors. Both of those teams have a good group of top three runners.

In terms of depth, O’Brien feels that the Minutemen may have the edge along with La Salle.

O’Brien said UMass will rely on senior Andrew Mulvaney to produce for the Minutemen. According to O’Brien, seniors Scott VanderMolen and Robert Deegan have been showing well recently and senior Sonny Gamble and junior Patrick McAllister have also been rounding into shape.

O’Brien said the course at Schenely Park is rather tough and that a team like Duquesne which runs out of Pittsburgh, may hold a home course advantage.

The first half of the race will start out almost directly downhill, take a 180-degree turn and go back uphill.

Still, O’Brien doesn’t think that the race being in Pittsburgh will play that big of a factor.

“I feel comfortable we can moderate the home course advantage,” O’Brien said.

Women’s coach Julie LaFreniere also thinks that the A-10 will be tight this year. At the top, LaFreniere expects in no particular order to see Richmond, Dayton and La Salle. The rest of the schools will be close together, even as close as within one or two points of each other.

“If our top seven really pull it together they can be in the top five,” LaFreniere said.

LaFreniere said that the Minutewomen will go into the championship meet fairly healthy and that they will use the rest of the week to freshen up.

In the most recent workouts there have been mixed results, some have done well some have not. Some key individuals dropped the ball at the end of last week, LaFreniere said.

“[I] thought they’d be in a better place,” LaFreniere said.

If the team shows up with the right attitude and gives everything they have, good results will come, LaFreniere said.

LaFreniere said that the course at Schenely Park is pretty fast, and that it will be important for the runners to have the confidence and courage to compete.

LaFreniere also said that UMass has never run in an A-10 meet as early as Saturday’s 9 a.m. start. The Minutewomen will have to be up early to start preparing for the meet.

Eric Mansfield can be reached at [email protected].

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