BETHPAGE, N.Y. – The Saint Anselm College men's and women's cross country teams will compete at the 2018 NCAA Division II East Region Championship meet on Saturday, Nov. 17 at Bethpage State Park.
The men's 10K race, hosted by Adelphi University, will begin at high noon with a 6K women's race to follow at 1:15 p.m. Both the men's and women's programs will send seven runners plus one alternate for the race.
Last season, the women's program placed 14th out of 25 competing teams and posted their best finish since the 2015 campaign. The men's team fielded a complete squad at last year's meet, doing so after a year's hiatus, placing 21st out of 23 programs in the field.
Senior Liberty Gendron (Goffstown, N.H.) is the only repeat performer at the NCAA Regional level as her six teammates that will be joining her are all freshman. Those include Holly O'Leary (Tewksbury, Mass.), Sarah Mullen (Seekonk, Mass.), Dominique Engle (Rutland, Mass.), Samantha Matthews (Groveland, Mass.), Ellen Duane (Braintree, Mass.) and Lia Guerette (Ellington, Conn.). Caitlyn Callinan (Litchfield, N.H.) will serve as the alternate.
The team, having earned placement on the USTFCCCA East Region Polls during the season, will be racing in its second-consecutive 6K race after opening the year with four-straight 5K races. O'Leary trailed her team's top finisher, Gendron, by just over one minute in the 6K conference championsip, with Engle, Mullen and Matthews scoring for the Hawks. Engle, Matthews and Callinan have appeared in all five varsity-level races to date.
"Now that we have experience running a 6K, I believe we will be able to improve on our placement coming off of the NE10 meet," remarked second-year Head Coach Brian Stankiewicz. "This is a very talented group that is capable of competing with the top teams in the region, as long as we run as a pack like we have been all season. I am eager to see our results."
Gendron has compiled an impressive senior campaign, setting her personal-best 5K time in back-to-back races while placing first among her temamates in the previous three races. She posted a 17th place finish at the Bruce Kirsh Cup on Oct. 20, recording a 5K time of 19:29 only one race after posting a then-best 19:51.2 at the NEICAAA New England Championship.
The men's program at Saint Anselm built confidence heading into Saturday's race with a 12th place finish at the NE10 Championship on Oct. 22. The Hawks head into the East Region race after placing 20th or higher in its last six regional competitions and will be led by junior Anthony Galasso (Reading, Mass.) – he has been his team's top finisher in the last two races.
Joining Galasso at the starting line will be freshman Cole Corcoran (Braintree, Mass.), sophomore Jordan Cook (Biddeford, Maine), sophomore Ben Sweesy (Merrimack, N.H.), senior Adam Pakalnis (Waterbury, Conn.), sophomore Trent Briggs (Westford, Mass.) and senior Nathaniel Shannon (Plymouth, Mass.). Sophomore Tim Holmes (Shirley, Mass.) has been designated as the alternate for the Hawks.
Pakalnis has the most experience at a regional meet with three appearances, including a team-best time of 36:24.3 as a sophomore. Galasso turned in a time of 38:18.1 last season at the regional and joins Cook, Briggs, Sweesy and Shannon as those who have represented Saint Anselm in regional competition.
Cook led the Hawks at the Shacklette Invitational to open the season while Corcoran tallied back-to-back top finishes for Saint Anselm at both the National Catholic Invitational and the NEICAAA Championship. Galasso has been the hot hand for the Hawks, leading his team at both the Bruce Kirsh Cup and the NE10 Championship last time out.
"We have a lot of experience this year, so the increase in distance from an 8K to a 10K race does not concern me," said Stankiewicz. "We've done a great job of getting stronger as the race goes on, proving that the men have been training well and are ready to take on an additional 2K with the goal of improving on last year's finish at the regional race."