Runner qualifies for nationals, teams fall short

Sports Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 13, 2012



The men’s cross country team finished 11th among 34 total teams, while the women’s team captured eighth place in a 37 team field at Friday’s NCAA Northeast Regional Championship in Madison, Connecticut. Though neither squad qualified for the NCAA Championship, bringing both seasons to an end, Margaret Connelly ’14 earned an individual bid to the meet.

The women finished with 223 points, besting last year’s 11th place team, which finished with 241 points. Providence College, with 46 points, was the top team to finish the six-kilometer course. The Ivy League had a strong showing with six schools, including Bruno, finishing in the top 10. 

Connelly led the Bears, finishing seventh overall with a personal best time of 20 minutes, 11 seconds. She was the second woman to finish from the Ivy League, following only the overall champion, Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino. Connelly said she is excited to have the opportunity to compete at the national meet, though her ultimate goal was to see the whole team qualify.

“It’s a very big highlight to have her qualify for the national meet,” said Mitchell Baker, head coach of women’s cross country. “You really can’t describe how challenging that is to pull it off individually.”

Connelly said her strategy was to stay “poised and relaxed” while working her way up to the top group of girls. Since the course was relatively flat, Baker said he wanted the women to start the race in a good position but not “feel like they had to sprint the first mile to be there.”

Heidi Caldwell ’14 finished 21st overall in 20:38 and was followed 19 seconds later by Olivia Mickle ’13, who claimed 40th overall. Baker said both women usually run alongside Connelly, but Caldwell had a “little bit of inflammation in her leg this past week” and Mickle was “not quite her normal self at the beginning.”

The last two women to score for Bruno were Leah Eickhoff ’15 and Elaine Kuckertz ’13, who finished in 21:30 and 21:48, respectively. 

“I think we did well. It was an improvement over last year,” Connelly said. “But judging from our performance at Heps and with our team ability, I think we could have placed higher if everything had fallen into place.” 

Iona College won the men’s race with 45 points, and five Ivy League schools finished in the top 10. The Bruno men fell six places and 227 points from last year’s finish when Dan Lowry ’12 captured third place overall. 

Given that the men have not had a strong season, finishing last at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, the men “executed pretty well” at the regional meet and took a “positive step forward,” said Tim Springfield, head coach of men’s cross country.

“I think it was an improvement,” Springfield said. “It’s not something any of us were particularly satisfied with, but it was a nice way to cap the season.”

Conor Grogan ’13 led the way for Bruno on the 10K course and finished in 31:09. Springfield said he thought Grogan performed “extremely well” and significantly better than at the Ivy League Championship where he  finished 31st

“At Heps I got in a little over my head,” Grogan said. “Yesterday, I went out pretty slow and was passing people the entire way. I narrowly missed being all-region, which is the top 25.”

Brendan Boyle ’14 finished 79th overall in 32:04 and Austin Snyder ’13 finished a second later in 81st place. Jeff Bush ’14 and Kevin Cooper ’13 were the last two runners to score for Bruno and finished in 32:34 and 32:38, respectively. In preparing for the meet, Grogan said the men “went back to square one” to try and eliminate some of the “performance issues” they have had throughout the season.

“So the plan was pretty different. The six guys were going to race as a pack and stay together through 5k,” Grogan said.

Looking back on the season as a whole, Springfield said the big challenge was that this year’s team had many talented track athletes who were working to “develop that cross country aspect.” Though they tried to translate track success into cross country success, Springfield admitted that they “struggled a little bit.”

“It certainly wasn’t a fun season for most of us but it wasn’t for lack of effort,” Grogan said. “It will make those times when we race well that much sweeter.”

Connelly will travel to Louisville, Kentucky for the national championship Saturday. Though she said she has not set specific goals, Connelly said she hopes to be competitive and have a “smooth and relaxed” race. 

“The goal is to celebrate that you’re there and treat it like any other race that you’ve been to,” Baker said. “Go out there and focus on what’s in front of you.”

The rest of the team will have some time off before training starts for the indoor track and field season, which officially begins Dec. 1, when Bruno will host the Alden Invitational. 

“Luckily we don’t have an entire year to dwell on this season,” Grogan said. “So we’re excited for that.”


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