UMass cross country’s Heather MacLean wins 2016 A-10 Championship

By Tyler Movsessian

(Andy Castillo/ Daily Collegian)
(Andy Castillo/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s and women’s cross country teams traveled to Mechanicsville, Virginia to the annual Atlantic 10 championship on Saturday, where redshirt junior Heather MacLean put on a clinic, winning the women’s five-kilometer race in just 17:06.8, an astounding 13 seconds faster than the next athlete to finish.

MacLean’s individual win led the Minutewomen to a fifth place finish out of 14 teams with 150 points. Following MacLean, junior Colleen Sands finished second for the UMass women in 18:04.5, which earned her 24th hoplace overall. Following Sands was the breakthrough redshirt freshman Mary Lavery, completing the course in 18:06 for 28th. Rounding off the scorers for the Minutewomen included senior Deidre Martyn (18:21.1, 41st place) and junior Christine Davis (18:32.4, 58th)

Behind MacLean, the A-10 runner up was LaSalle sophomore Kaitlin Poiesz at 17:19.8, with Duquesne senior Valerie Palermo talking third less than a second behind Poiesz at 17:20.4.

While MacLean took the individual championship, Richmond took the team championship. The Spiders had a consistent pack that saw the top five runners take 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th, and 18th place overall. These five Richmond runners all finished in a span of 4.5 seconds (17:52.7 – 17:57.2). This pack gave Richmond only 77 points to take the win. Behind Richmond was the Dayton Flyers at 88 points and the Duquesne Dukes also with 88 points. The difference between Dayton and Duquesne was the sixth runner, where the sixth Flyer came in 37th place while the sixth Duke finished in 46th.

The UMass men’s team finished in the middle of the pack, taking ninth out of 14 teams at Pole Green Park. Leading the way for the Minutemen was senior Paolo Tavares, enjoying a 21th place finish, running the five-mile course in 25:27.9. Behind Tavares were seniors Morgan Marlow and Blake Croteau, taking 33rd (25:41.5) and 34th (25:42.2). Finalizing the scorers for UMass was sophomore Mike Famiglietti at 26:01.5 and senior John Burns at 26:08. Famiglietti and Burns finished in 52nd and 58th place, respectively.

“I’m disappointed with the teams’ performance,” said Coach Ken O’Brien in an email to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. “We’ve had six (or) seven runners who were 20 seconds apart from each other all season, but for some reason that strength didn’t hold up on Saturday.”

With Ben Groleau, the 2015 A-10 runner up graduated, UMass missed that major scoring advantage. There weren’t enough Minutemen near the top to compensate for the loss of Groleau, according to O’Brien.

The individual champion was Duquesne’s Rico Galassi. The junior finished the race in a blazing 24:32.3, 10 seconds ahead of the next runner, Dayton’s Hunter Johnson, who finished in 24:42.4, who barely edged out senior John Mogen from Davidson who took bronze in 24:42.8.

Thanks to Johnson and Galassi, Dayton and Duquesne continued their great showing in both races, as they helped lead their teams to first and second respectively, as Dayton took the title with just 57 points. Meanwhile, Duquesne finished with 77 points. In third was the St. Louis Billikens, led by sophomore Manuel De Backer’s fourth  place at 24:47.3. The Billikens finished with 85 points.

The next race for UMass will be Nov. 11 in Bronx, New York at the NCAA East Regionals. The teams will be concentrating on speed work as the 2016 season comes to a close. This will be the first of two races at Van Cortlandt Park, the final venue for UMass this season.

Tyler Movsessian can be reached at [email protected]