Cross Country competes at A-10 Championships

By Jeffrey Okerman

The Massachusetts track teams traveled to Charlotte, N.C., over the weekend to participate in the A-10 championship at Frank Liske Park, and each squad fared well.

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian
Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The Minutemen posted a handful of season-best times on their way to fifth-place, which UMass coach Ken O’Brien said he “could live with.” La Salle took the A-10 title, overall.

Leading the Minutemen for the fourth consecutive race, Sean Duncan (24:44.0) emerged from the 124 runner field in eighth place, in a season-best time. His placing was high enough to earn him an All-Conference team spot, his first such honor in cross country.

Patrick McGowan (24:54.3), a sophomore from Mansfield, also earned an All-Conference spot, finishing in 12th place overall with a personal best on an 8,000-meter course. O’Brien was not surprised that McGowan performed so well.

“Patrick has invested a lot of training time this fall,” said O’Brien. “[He] probably trained more like a junior or a senior, rather than a sophomore. We’ve got to give him credit for the hard-work. It was not a surprise, but it was obviously something he worked for, and it paid off.”

Following UMass’ impressive duo up front were Antony Taylor (25:26.3) and Jared Reddy (25:28.1). The pair finished 27th and 29th, respectively, also running for season-best times in the 8k.

“Jared had a really break-out race,” said O’Brien. “This was his best race of the season. Antony has been pretty consistent, he’s had a better race this season, but it still was a very good race.”

Rounding out the scoring for the Minutemen were senior Andrew Erwin, who placed 56th with a time of 26:06.4. Right behind Erwin, was Paul Merrima, who finished 57th in 26:07.4 and Benjamin Mears, who crossed the finish line in 59th place. O’Brien said he enjoyed the competition of the group for the fifth spot, but doesn’t want them to stop there.

“Basically we’ve got 10 other runners on the team, and we only need one,” said O’Brien. “It’s a big pack fighting for the fifth, but that’s not exactly the way we want them to think. We want that big pack to fighting for a close fourth, even a third. We don’t want status quo, we want someone to become a fireball.

“Each performance has a glitter to it, and you put [McGowan, Reddy, and Taylor] together with Sean you have a pretty good team,” added O’Brien. “What I’m looking for is you wrap that in a package, I want it to light a fire in the hearts of the remaining team members.”

On the women’s side, the Minutewomen collected 10th out of 14 competing teams in a race that saw La Salle collect the title identical to the men’s squad. The UMass harriers battled it out on the 5,000 meter version of the Frank Liske Park course.

Karen Roa continued her excellent season finishing in fifth-place overall against the 127 harrier field. Her finish in 17:37.7 earned her an All-Conference team spot, also a first time honor. However, following Roa, there was a major gap with the nearest finisher being freshman Rachel Hilliard, who finished in 18:58.9. Hilliard recorded a 41 second improvement over her previous 5,000 meter outing.

Courtney Baldwin (19:01.0), finished in 55th place followed by Sarah Barrett (19:03.4), who crossed in 61st place. UMass’ final scorer, Katie Powers (19:13.8), emerged from the field in 74th place.

Colleen Wetherbee (19:16.6), and Danielle McNiff (19:20.9), kept close to Powers, placing 77th, and 79th respectively, but missed out on scoring in the Championship meet.

Both cross country teams will be back on the course at NCAA Northeast Regional Championships in Amherst, N.Y., on Nov. 12.

Jeffrey Okerman can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @MDC_Okerman.