Coming into the Atlantic Regional Championships last Saturday, head coach Phil Jennings and the rest of his team knew that with the season on the line, they would have to run with authority. Although both the men and the women came up just short of qualifying for nationals, they gained some valuable experience, which will help them in the near future.
“Our thought was that if we just did our best and ran well, then both teams could have been in the top five if everything came together,” Jennings said. “We would have needed it to be a perfect day for it to all happen, but you can only control so much.”
For the men, their top two runners, senior Andy Gallagher and freshman Jack Leahy, had big days, finishing with times of 25:58.7 and 26:04.9, respectively. These times were good enough for a chance to qualify for individual nationals. Behind them was junior Dominic Tasco with a time of 26:04.9 and freshman Jon Stouber, finishing in 26:27.9. With this combined effort, the Lions managed to take 6th place out of 44 universities.
Although the Lions did not qualify as a team, Jennings is still proud of the men’s effort.
“It was a good season for our guys, we had lost five of our top seven guys from last year, so we had a pretty young team,” he said. “Coming in, there wasn’t a lot of experience because we only had two guys who competed (Saturday) that went there the year before so (although they were young), the guys had a tough and motivated team.”
As for the women, they were not as fortunate when it came to their 6K race.
“It was particularly disappointing for Cathy Goncalves to place 14th and not make it individually,” Jennings said.
With a time of 22:27.6, this senior missed the cutoff for nationals by just a few runners. To be eligible for nationals, the runner must finish within the top seven. If however, the runner also qualified for their team event, then they lose their spot in individuals and it is given to the person with the next fastest time. In most situations, Goncalves would have qualified.
As for the team, behind the captain was sophomore Tara Nealon and junior Anginelle Alabanza with respective times of 23:22.3 and 23:41.3. Overall, the Lady Lions finished 11th out of 39 other Division III schools.
With the season unfortunately over, the Lions are now forced to reflect back on it.
“There were a lot of things which did not go our way,” Jennings said. “There were a couple of early season injuries so it was more challenging on the women’s side pulling everything together to be where we wanted to be.”
Although it may not have been the ideal ending for the Lions, not all is completely lost. According to Jennings, “The experience that those guys got from (the race) should certainly help going into next year.”