The Massachusetts men’s cross country team capped off its season at the IC4A Championships at Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, N.Y. on Saturday, capturing a 17th place finish out of 19 teams. The Minutemen competed in the championship race and not the university race, which is considered the less competitive of the two.
In a field of 162 runners, the first to finish for UMass was junior Patrick McAllister in 58th place with a time of 26 minutes and 12 seconds. Next to finish was freshman Patrick McGowan (26:13.4).
Freshman and junior harriers Jared Reddy and Andrew Erwin were the next two to finish with times of 26:51.1 and 27:03.2, respectively. Rounding out the top five for the Minutemen was freshman Paul Merriman (27:26.7).
Freshman Dan Joyce and junior Jeff Hill also competed for the Minutemen.
UMass coach Ken O’Brien said that this year the Minutemen had many younger runners that were unable to make the travel roster. The IC4A meet served as the race they would train for.
“I kept them training with that IC4A meet in mind as being their kind of a championship meet,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien added that he thought the team responded well considering how tough the Van Cortland Park course is.
“[The runners] probably were a little bit in awe [of the course],” O’Brien said.
O’Brien added that Van Cortlandt Park has been the site for many major New York championship meets and has a very rich history.
“It’d be like you or I playing baseball in Yankee Stadium,” O’Brien said.
Three runners that O’Brien thought ran well were McGowan, McAllister and Reddy.
“Everybody else gave it a great effort and I think came away with a chance to compete against some of the east coast’s major running programs [that didn’t qualify for NCAA’s],” O’Brien said.
O’Brien added that while this meet didn’t hold the same significance as an NCAA Championship meet, it was still important.
“It’s like the NIT of college basketball,” O’Brien said. “If you don’t make March Madness, then you’ve got another place to compete.”
The race’s top five team finishers were Duke, Duquesne, Harvard, Central Connecticut State and Marist. Crossing the finish line first overall was Rider senior Christian Gonzalez with a time of 24:52.7.
Other than Duquesne and UMass, the only other A-10 competitors were LaSalle and Saint Joseph’s. They took 15th and 18th place finishes, respectively.
This season, the Minutemen were able to capture third place at the A-10 championship meet, trailing only Duquesne and Richmond.
UMass was also able to take a ninth place-finish at the NCAA Regional meet and an eighth place finish at the Chili Pepper Festival in Arkansas, among nationally ranked competition.
The indoor season for the Minutemen will not begin until Jan. 15 at the Sparks Sorlien Invitational in Kingston, R.I.
Earlier this month, seven seniors were named captains of the 2011 squad. Leading the team will be Kevin Spieler, Scott VanderMolen, Daniel Schwartz, Tyler Cotto, Daniel Barry, Daniel Wu and Brian Tino.
VanderMolen and Barry both ran cross country this fall.
Eric Mansfield can be reached at eamansf[email protected]