BIDDEFORD, Maine – The Worcester State University men's cross country team finished fifth of 12 teams at the University of New England Invitational on Saturday, as Wentworth came in first place with a team score of 48.
September 9, 2017
1st Place: Wentworth (48)
2nd Place: University of New England (59)
3rd Place: Endicott (96)
4th Place: Roger Williams (148)
5th Place: Worcester State (153)
6th Place: Gordon (162)
7th Place: Mass. Maritime (174)
8th Place: Maine Maritime (209)
9th Place: Thomas (242)
10th Place: Wheelock (271)
11th Place: Lesley (318)
12th Place: Mount Ida College (332)
WORCESTER STATE TOP-7
11th Place, Christian Vera (29:17.0)
26th Place, Marques Johnson (30:38.6)
35th Place, Robert Davis (30:38.6)
44th Place, Zachary Lajeunesse (31:30.0)
48th Place, Patrick Scheeler (31:40.8)
63rd Place, Jack Newcomb (32:24.1)
72nd Place, Patrick Donahue (33:13.8)
Coming off a strong first meet performance last week, the Worcester State Men's Cross Country team had expected this week to show up to the UNE Invitational at full strength with hopes of vying this year for the overall title. That was not to be as the team was devastated by a viral bug that hit at least half of the squad, including the coach, during the week. As a result, the team goals and focus were adjust as only ten athletes competed. Coach Al Halper challenged his guys to step up and that they did.
"Given the team circumstances, I saw an opportunity to rest some of our guys back into recovery from the illnesses and a couple of guys who could benefit from this week off from racing. In essence, almost my entire top seven sat this one out. The good thing is, the guys were able to turn this negative into a huge positive. Those that did step on the starting line were largely developing runners who were told to be more aggressive this week and run to push their comfort zone and they all did just that. "
Halper said further, "Of this group, only Christian Vera has been a consistent top seven competitor for the team and he was the top Lancer today in 11th place overall. Three others, Pat Scheeler, Rob Davis, and Jack Newcomb have also been among that top group at times. I was also extremely pleased with the progress of the freshmen crew."
"Our top freshman, Dan Roy, was among the group that sat this race out, but the others stepped it up and challenged themselves throughout the race. To a man, every one of the guys ran well today. As their progress continues, they will contribute even more down the road. I was extremely pleased with freshman Zack LaJeunesse who ran his first 8K collegiate race and is still feeling out the race and running strategy at this point and is becoming more competitive as he does."
Halper concluded by stating, "Today, I started out a little worried, but sometimes the adversity a team faces tells its character. This team at the early stages of the season, seems determined to be a top competitive team. We are a deep team when 100%. As the season goes on, our strengths will show themselves. For now, we will take on one week at a time and make the necessary adjustments to continue to be successful. Today, some of the guys who don't also get to make a difference, made a difference. That can only help them and their teammates be better each week both psychologically and athletically."
The cross country team will travel to Dartmouth, Mass. next Saturday (Sep. 16) to take part in the UMass Dartmouth Invitational.