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 looks for strong outing in Atlantic 10 cross country championship Saturday

(Alec Zabrecky/Daily Collegian)

Editors note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the eligibility of one of UMass’ runners.

The Massachusetts cross country team is coming off of its longest layover of the season as it heads into the first postseason race as it participates in the Atlantic 10 Championships Saturday.

The year’s championship will be held at Pole Green Park in Mechansville, Virginia. The men will prepare for a five-mile course, while the women will race a five-kilometer route. Both courses, like Boston’s Franklin Park will be grassy, so a fast start up front is to be expected.

For both races, all A-10 teams will be in attendance. This will include some teams UMass has not raced against this year, as well as some familiar faces. There will be 13 opponents against the Minutemen and Minutewomen, including last year’s championship team, Saint Joseph’s.

Individually, the top four performers in the 2015 race have graduated, leaving St. Joseph’s Jimmy Daniels, who ran a 24:41 as the fastest returning runner. He is followed by last week’s co A-10 runner of the week, Fran Ferruzzi of La Salle, and teammate Bradley Heuer who finished last year’s race in seventh and ninth place respectively.

La Salle junior Morgan Ferruzzi and senior Heuer Heuer give the Explorers an edge going into Saturday’s race as one the favorites to win. Four of their top six runners from last year are returning, with the top three all being seniors running in their last race at Pole Green Park. The Explorers finished in fourth place last season, just 3 points behind Davidson and 6 points behind UMass. Based on high performers returning, Davidson and returning champion St. Joseph’s are also large favorites.

Last year, the Minutemen’s second place finish was anchored by senior Ben Groleau. Without Groleau leading UMass, the Minutemen would turn to now senior Paolo Tavares, whose 12th place finish last year won him A-10 all-conference honors. Tavares, however, has not been UMass’ number one runner in any race this season, Additionally, look for Samuel Conway and Morgan Marlow, both who have made significant improvements this season to try to help push with Tavares near the front.

In the women’s race, junior Morgan Szekely of LaSalle is the runaway favorite. Szekely will have her work cut out for her, as Davidson’s Caroline Yarborough took third as a freshman last year and was the A-10 women’s performer of the week following her most recent race, and will be pushing with Szekely up at the top.

The hometown Richmond Spiders took the championship in the 2015 race thanks to senior Tara Hanley’s fourth place finish. However, Hanley had a group of young runners right behind her as the other three of her top four teammates finished within the top 20 overall last season. This would put Richmond as a heavy favorite to take the title again this year with juniors Courtney Thompson and Amanda Corbosiero leading the Spiders. Also be on the lookout for LaSalle and Duquesne to try and put a halt to the Spider’s repeat attempt.

For the Minutewomen, their second-place finisher from last year, Carly Zinner, who graduated in the spring, propelled the Minutewomen to a fourth place finish. Without their support, the team will be looking toward new sophomore Mary Lavery and junior Colleen Sands to help UMass get in contention. Lavery has been a great addition to the team, with numerous top 10 finishes and Sands has grown tremendously over this season that gives the Minutewomen a chance to be competitive towards a title.

The action all kicks off in Virginia Saturday with the women’s race at 10 a.m. and the men’s race at 10:50 a.m., which can be streamed lived on the A-10 cross country website.

UMass coaches Ken O’Brien and Julie LaFreniere could not be reached in time for this publication. 

Tyler Movsessian can be reached at [email protected].

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  • T

    Tyler MovsessianDec 16, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    Yeah, I realized that I made an error in this piece. I was unaware that “redshirt junior” was regarding her NCAA eligibilty standing and not referring to her current eligibility status

  • T

    TedOct 31, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    “Heather MacLean taking a redshirt season?” She raced twice this season (Spider Alumni 9/3, UMass 9/10) before the A10 championship.