Cross country seeks another national appearance
Sam Tapper — Sports Writer
Coming off a 2018 season which featured NCAA appearances for both the men’s and women’s crosscountry teams, both squads are ready to get back and continue the success in 2019.
In 2018, the men’s crosscountry team were able to win their first ever NE10 conference crown. Four Owls were able to finish in the top-15 with four separate athletes, as current juniors Christopher Lebeau and Terrell Patterson finished third and fourth, respectively.
The Owls wrapped up the NE10 tournament with a final score of 50 points, beating out second place Stonehill College by seven. After their conference crown, the Owls made it all the way to the NCAA Championships, something they had not achieved since 1999.
This year, there is optimism among the coaching staff and the players that the team can get back there again, but it will be a challenge.
“We have a lot of experience on the team this year,” said senior captain Connor Shannahan. “I think that’s our biggest contributing factor to how we’ll do. We’d like to build off of last year and definitely continue that success.”
On the women’s side, the Owls are coming off an appearance in NCAA regionals, where they placed 15th on the field. Meghan Delaney, currently a senior and the captain of the women’s team, placed the highest of the participating Owls at that event.
This year, Delaney is the lone senior on her squad. Of the seven runners on the team, five freshmen and sophomores, and Brittany Post, a junior, is the only other upperclassman alongside Delaney.
With that said, Delaney will have increased responsibilities mentoring and leading her young teammates as a captain, something she said she was nervous for at first but is now taking pride in.
“At first, when I thought about it, I thought it was going to be a lot of pressure,” said Delaney, “but I make sure that the girls trust me and that there’s more mutual respect than for me to be above anyone. I try to make myself at their level and I like to guide the girls, especially because they’re younger, with things outside of cross-country.”
This year, the Owls’ young season is off to a good start. Both squads participated in the Adelphi Panthers Invitational on Sept. 6. The men’s team placed first in the field with four runners occupying the top five and the captain, Shannahan, placing first overall.
Of the other top five finishers, sophomore Jake Mattei placed third, Patterson fourth and Lebeau fifth.
The women placed third out of 13 total participating schools on their side of the invitational. Sophomore Emilie Noreika led the way for the Owls placing 11th with a time of 20:34:00 and Delaney finished 13th with a time of 20:42:10.
“It’s going well so far, [for a] relatively young team,” said assistant cross-country coach Brian Nill. “We’re looking forward to the year to come and just continuing to build the program, but it’s off to a good start, everyone’s healthy and everyone’s training well, just got to focus on keeping. Everybody healthy going forward and just competing well.”
The Owls have a multitude of athletes on the cross-country squad that also participate in track and field as well. Nill, who serves as an assistant coach on both the crosscountry and the track and field team, says that the added training goes a long way towards boosting an athlete’s potential.
“Being able to train year-round, you just keep growing as an athlete,” said Nill. “If you can keep a kid training year-round, that kid’s probably going to be double as good the following year and is going to keep on growing.”