UMass men’s and women’s cross country opens season with middling finishes

By Lauren McArdle

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s and women’s cross country teams had their first meet of the season on Saturday at the Minuteman Invitational.

The Minutemen finished in fourth out of the six local schools, which included first-place Vermont and second-place Boston College, at the meet. Maine took third place to finish ahead of UMass.

Junior co-captain Benjamin Thomas led the Minutemen with a third-place finish. In his first race since 2011, senior John Mantia finished 15th overall, while Cory Thomas came in ninth, completing the 6k in 19:24:70. Junior Blake Croteau and sophomore Paolo Tavares recorded the fourth and fifth best times for the Minutemen, finishing 19th and 21st, respectively.

UMass has 11 returning runners, including the squad’s top seven finishers from last year’s Atlantic 10 championship meet. UMass has added four newcomers this season as well.

“I think it was a great start to our season and I’m excited to see what we can do from here,” Thomas said..

Minutewomen place third

The Minutewomen had additional competition in the form of Connecticut and Rhode Island, but were still strong enough for third place..

Senior Rachel Hilliard led the all Minutewomen, finishing fifth out of the 125 competitors. The other top five finishers for UMass included senior Alexandra Purdue-Smithe – who finished 16th overall – junior Carly Zinner and sophomores Deirdre Martynand and Christine Davis.

Hilliard has high expectations for the Minutewomen this season, hoping for a top three finish in the A-10.

“We have a lot of new, strong freshmen coming in and then most of our girls returned from last year,” Hilliard said. “I think we have a really good shot.”

Six of UMass’s top seven finishers are returnees. The Minutewomen have also added 10 freshmen to the roster.

Both UMass squads will have a 13-day layoff before their next meet on Friday, Sept. 26, at the Coast to Coast Battle in Beantown, which will take place in Franklin Park in Boston.

Lauren McArdle can be reached at [email protected]