Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Men’s and women’s cross country to race at NCAA Northeast Regionals Friday

Buffalo will host the meet as the 2018 season winds down for UMass

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(Collegian File Photo)

(Collegian File Photo)

(Collegian File Photo)

By Sean Richardson

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The Massachusetts women’s and men’s cross country teams will race at Audubon Golf Course in Buffalo for the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships this Friday. The women will kick off the day at 11 A.M. and the men will follow at noon. It will be the final time the Minutewomen race this fall, while the Minutemen have one more race at the conclusion of regionals.

Each team is coming off a disappointing finish at Atlantic 10’s almost two weeks ago, but hope to rebound against the top schools in the region.

Many of the teams traveling to Buffalo will have already competed against UMass this season in prior meets. Nationally ranked at No. 20, Columbia is the favorite to win the women’s championship. Meanwhile, powerhouse Syracuse is the men’s front-runner after climbing to No. 12 in the nation this past week.

“I expect these guys to rise to the challenge,” said UMass men’s coach Tim Ritchie. “I think they’re a little disappointed coming off of A-10’s, but I think they know we can compete at a high level.”

Ritchie’s squad finished sixth out of 14 teams at the A-10 championships, but were one of the favorites coming into the meet. Despite the mediocre team finish, freshman John Rahn and captain Michael Famigiletti each had their best race of the season, with the latter earning All-Conference honors for his 13th place finish, while the former was the second-fastest freshman overall to finish the five-mile course.

Individual performances like this are what the Minutemen hope to set up a top-15 finish at regionals.

If achieved, Ritchie believes that the Minutemen will establish themselves as one of the top programs in the northeast and serve as a reference point for how the program can improve in the following years.

Audubon’s 10-kilometer course will also be the longest-distance race for UMass this season, having raced primarily eight-kilometers in preceding races.

Meanwhile, the Minutewomen will look to finish on a high note for what has been a tumultuous campaign.

Since August, the women have seen many of their top athletes become hindered by illness, on top of it already being a rebuilding season after losing six seniors from the year prior. This combination resulted in a 13th place finish at the Atlantic 10 championships and a string of unspectacular team performances all season long.

“Unfortunately, it is what it is and I want to move forward,” said UMass women’s coach Julie LaFreniere. “I think we can regroup and have a strong indoor track season, but this is totally not what I expected for the fall.”

Several Minutewomen to keep an eye on are Alexina Hurley and Collette O’Leary who have split time as the number one and two runners all season long for UMass and hope to wrap up their falls with strong performances.

Friday’s meet will be the final time seniors Serena Sarage, Sydney Clary, Alexa Livingstone and Brook Hansel race for the women’s cross country team.

 

Sean Richardson can be reached by email at [email protected].

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