Cross Country wins regionals
Avery Martin – Contributor
The men’s cross country team won the Northeast 10, NE10 Championships on Nov. 6th. Sean Barkasy, a freshman, said winning his first conference title was important to him.
“Coming in as a freshman, knowing this school was a winning program, then winning with them, and then being part of the top three on the squad as a freshman is really important to me” Barkasy said.
Jonathan Volpe, a sophomore, was also excited to win his first conference title.
“It was good. We were expecting it, going into it, to get first or second because we were doing really well. I think we just went into it with the right mindset,” said Volpe.
The team began working hard over the summer to perform at their best this season. For freshmen like Barkasy, that means getting used to a new way of training in the college atmosphere.
“That freshman or sophomore season is when they look back and realize that they may have to make some changes in training to get better. Within an hour of finishing the season last year, they all realized some things we needed to work on,” Head Distance Coach Brian Nill said.
Since the beginning of the regular season in September, the team has worked hard to lower their times and run at their best. They kicked off the season strong, finishing fourth out of 35 teams at a UMASS. Dartmouth competition. They continued to finish in the top places since then.
On Nov. 19, the team competed in the NCAA East Regional Championship in Bethpage, New York. They finished first with strong results from all team members. Volpe finished third in the men’s 10k, senior Jake Mattei finished ninth and Barkasy finished 14.
This marked the first regional win for the men’s cross country team in the program’s history. Several runners also earned All-Regional Honors. Before heading off to regionals, Volpe said, “We want to get top three and hopefully we will win it.”
Barkasy was also looking forward to performing well at regionals.
“Our goal is definitely to win regionals. We’ve been working more cohesively as a group and working on pack running. As for myself, I just want to keep it top seven at regionals and just work my way up from there,” Barkasy said.
This season’s strong results and regional performance have led the team to qualify for the NCAA Division II National Championships in Seattle, Washington on Dec. 3. There, Nill hopes the Owls will learn about their competition.
“For us it’s a little different. The schools from the midwest, the pacific northwest, and California are very good. My goal for the guys is that I want us to crack the top 25. I think we can get in the top 25 and I just want them to get their feet wet with the experience,” Nill said.
Nills and fellow coach John Wallin say that being alumni of the cross country team themselves has helped their coaching. “Our whole staff is alumni, which is great,” Wallin said.
Both coaches mentioned that the team is overall very young. Comprised mainly of underclassmen, some may see this as a disadvantage. Nills disagrees.
“It’s an advantage because it is a teaching moment. These guys are pretty young so you can teach them a lot of new stuff. They will be able to do this stuff for years down the road,” Nills said.