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 finishes third in Atlantic 10 championships

Both Massachusetts men’s and women’s cross country teams competed at Schenely Park

in Pittsburgh, Pa., this weekend for the Atlantic 10 Championships. The men and women finished third and eighth in the 14-team meet, respectively.

            In what was their final A-10 Championship meet as Minutemen, Kevin and David Johnson crossed the finish line first for UMass. Kevin finished in a time of 24 minutes, 59 seconds, with David just behind him in 25 minutes.

            Not long after the twins came three other senior members of the team, Andrew Mulvaney (25:16), Scott VanderMolen (25:35) and Robert Deegan (25:38).      

Rounding out the top seven was senior Sonny Gamble (25:48) and junior Andrew Erwin (25:57).

            UMass coach Ken O’Brien was pleased with his team’s effort. 

            In order to prepare for the course at Schenely Park, O’Brien simulated the course in their training. In years past, when O’Brien’s Minutemen were not familiar with how to run the course, they struggled.

            After implementing certain changes in their training prior to the meet in Pittsburgh, the Minutemen have run well the last two or three times they competed there.

            With that training O’Brien said that he thought the team was prepared for the course and neutralized Duquesne’s home course advantage.

            In the weeks leading up to the meet O’Brien sensed that his team knew that they were “doing something the other teams haven’t had a chance to do.”

            The team had a mental edge as far as preparation.

            “We were ready to run pretty well. I thought we had a good day,” O’Brien said.

            O’Brien said that he thought the older runners responded well and did a fine job leading the team.

            “It was as expected a team effort,” O’Brien said.

            Richmond took first place with three runners finishing in the top 10.

            Senior Andrew Benford of Richmond took first place overall in the field of 144 with a time of 24:12.

            Duquesne took second with two runners finishing in the top 10.

            Leading the way for the Minutewomen was junior Karen Roa, finishing in 18th place out of the field of 139 runners. Roa finished with a time of 18:16.

            Next to finish for UMass were seniors Elizabeth Fisk and Gina Perno with times of 18:41 and 18:45, respectively.

            Rounding out the top five was sophomore Courtney Baldwin and junior Claire Pettit with times of 18:45 and 19:01.

            Head Coach Julie LaFreniere said that the eighth place finish isn’t too bad, being that fifth place was 11 points off.

            That being the case, the women were still disappointed, LaFreniere said.

            LaFreniere would add that there usually isn’t that big of a gap in between their top four runners. In the past they’ve all been within five seconds of each other.

            LaFreniere said that the finish only proves to be more disappointing when you know that it only would’ve taken each girl to make a few more passes to get to fifth place.

            “Roa and Baldwin really took it out,” LaFreniere said. “The women competed hard. They were gutsy.”

            LaFreniere said that freshman Mary Cole had a strong race and that she has been getting better with every meet.

            LaFreniere said that while Schenely Park is not a good spectator course, the athletes like it.

            “We were just a little bit off,” LaFreniere said.

            LaFreniere said some schools traveled on Thursday in order to get a day of recovery. UMass didn’t leave campus until early Friday morning.

            “I know I was exhausted by Friday night,” LaFreniere said.

            Both UMass teams will have the next week off and will then travel to Madison, Conn. for the NCAA Regional Championships on Nov. 13.

            Teams from eight different regions will compete for the opportunity to go to the NCAA National Championships. Two teams from each region will earn an automatic bid, with the next best six from any region being selected by a committee.

            UMass will compete amongst a field of about 25 schools from four or five major conferences within their region.

            O’Brien said that having an older team and momentum on its side is a good plus for them and that they will be ready for the 10,000 meter course in Madison. The Minutemen have already competed on one 10,000 meter course at the Chili Pepper Festival in Arkansas just a few weeks ago.

            LaFreniere said that over the course of the next couple of weeks the team will continue to keep building and that the meet in Madison will be “a different experience altogether.”

Eric Mansfield can be reached at [email protected].

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