Antony Taylor leads UMass men; Rachel Hilliard remains at top for women

By Frank Corona

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian File Photo

With 47 teams competing in the Paul Short Invite over the weekend, the Massachusetts men’s cross country finished strong, placing 23rd overall and taking home 686 points.
Out of almost 400 runners, redshirt junior Antony Taylor finished 75th with a time of 25:08 and averaged a 5:04 mile in the process.

Although much of the attention this year has been on the performance of various underclassmen, Taylor’s efforts highlighted the well-roundedness of the team. He backed it up with an impressive finish and the team’s top spot for the second week in a row.

The next four spots to finalize the top five consisted of underclassmen, including reigning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week Blake Croteau, who has yet to fall outside the top three in his first three collegiate meets. Croteau finished with a time of 25:37 and took home the 128th spot in the process.

Sophomores Benjamin Thomas, Daniel Sheldon and Benjamin Groleau finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, on the team. Thomas, who has yet to fall out of UMass’ top three this year, held a time of 25:38 . Sheldon ended with a time of 25:48 while Groleau finished in the the fifth spot for the second week in a row and clocked in at 26:07.

The consistency is something that has really stood out for this team, and the impact the young runners have had has proven to be a driving force as the team has produced impressive finishes in the first three meets.

Hilliard leads Minutewomen

With 48 teams, over 400 runners and without some of its top athletes, the Massachusetts women’s cross country team left Bethlehem, Pa., with strong performances and positive momentum as preparation for the Atlantic 10 championships continues.

Rachel Hilliard led the team a time of 21:40, good for 84th overall as the Minutewomen took home 928 points. UMass was forced to battle the heat as well as a longer distance, 6K course, but the junior was happy with the way everyone pushed through it.

“This is the first 6K a lot of these girls have run, especially the freshmen,” Hilliard said, “I think we did much better than we did last week.”

Following Hilliard was Alexandra Purdue-Smithe who finished 181st overall with a time of 22:29. The next runner to cross was Katie Powers, who finished within the team’s top five despite battling injuries leading up to the race. Powers’ performance came at a much-needed time, since the team was without some elite runners. Both Natalie Mako and Heather MacLean, who have finished in the top five in each of the previous meets, did not race due to injury.

“They’re definitely a big part of the team,” said Hilliard when asked about her missing teammates. “They’re really strong runners and when they get back our team is going to be much stronger and much faster”.

After Powers’ strong performance came Christine Davis who finished fourth for the team and 207th overall, holding a time of 22:44.

Senior Sarah Barrett recorded her first top five team finish of the year, earning the spot with a time of 23:10. Barrett had finished sixth in each of this year’s previous two meets.

Despite being pleased with the results this past weekend, the team seems to be in agreement that the end of the season is what it all really comes down to. After being asked about the importance of this meet and the overall performance, Rachel Hilliard reassured the team’s common goal by responding, “A-10’s are what matter.”

Both the Minutemen and Minutewomen will compete in the New England Championship in Boston on Oct. 12 at 11 a.m.

Frank Corona can be reached at [email protected]