Men and Women’s XC Takes on Patriot League Championships

John Albinson

Chief Sports Editor

This past weekend, the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams competed in the Patriot League Championship.  Hosted by Lehigh—a course both teams had already raced at back in September—this meet proved to be the culmination of a season’s worth of hard work and determination.  For Cross Country, the league championship meet is the most important race of the year.  Not only does it contain the most intense atmosphere of any meet, but its inclusive size—all 10 teams are only allowed to run a maximum of 12 athletes—adds to the fiercely competitive nature of the race.

The Men’s team began the weekend by racing the championship 8K in deceptively hot weather.  Leading the way for the Crusaders was junior co-captain Joe Prunty, who finished 48th in a personal best time of 25:59.03 (his first time ever under 26 minutes).  “I thought it was the best race of my HC career thus far,” said Prunty. “I’m going to keep working hard for the last two races to make sure I finish the season with some more PRs. And I’m very proud of how my teammates performed and that everyone put it all out there.” Finishing in second for the team was sophomore Bobby Tuzzio, who captured a 53rd place finish with a time of 26:19.59. Coming in not too far behind him was the duo of senior Bryan Gallagher and sophomore Alex Campagna, who finished right after one another in 57th and 58th place, respectively. Rounding out the scoring for the Crusaders was senior Alec Hilton, who finished in 68th with a PR of 26:56.70. When asked about the race, Hilton said, “It was exciting but at the same time knowing it was my last Patriots, it was bittersweet. I was happy that I PR’d and was proud of the team for doing well.” Overall, the men placed seventh as a team, beating Lafayette, Colgate, and Loyola, with a top five all under 27 minutes. Army won the meet, narrowly beating Navy by only four points and snapping their four-year win streak.

The Women’s team rounded out the day by racing the championship 6K—also in oddly hot weather for a late October morning.  Finishing first for the Crusaders was senior co-captain Hannah Jeter, who finished in an astounding fifth place with a time of 21:24.76. Jeter’s finish is the best individual performance by a Holy Cross runner at the Patriot League Championship since 2010, and her fourth straight season in the top 10 at the meet (sixth in 2016, seventh in 2015, and ninth in 2014). Senior Zoe Matherne captured a 12th place finish with a time of 21:42.29, with sophomore Jenna Gasparrini right behind her in 14th place, running a PR of 21:54.46. Gasparrini, who transferred to Holy Cross after a year at Boston College, didn’t even run last year—and a year later, she earns All-Patriot League honors. On her impressive performance, she said, “It was great to come out with a successful finish in my first Patriot League Championship. I couldn’t be happier to be back running and racing competitively after a year off and it has been great to have such a supportive team and coach.”

The Women’s team finished in fifth place overall, beating out American, Boston University, Loyola, Lafayette, and Colgate.  When asked about the team’s successful meet and season, Jeter said, “It was very exciting to have three people earn All-Patriot League, and I believe that this accomplishment really speaks to the depth and potential of our team. Beyond being a great group of athletes, the team is also a great group of people, and I look forward to seeing what we accomplish the rest of the year.”

As the other co-captain on the Men’s side, I cannot express how unbelievably proud I am of everyone on this team. It’s not easy training by yourself for three months over the summer. It’s not easy balancing schoolwork with 60-mile weeks. It’s not easy doing mile repeats, hill workouts, or long runs. And it’s certainly not easy getting seventh place in the Patriot League. Everyone on this team has something to be proud of, and I think that’s a testament to the unity and cohesion this squad has had all season—the best I’ve seen in my four years here. With only two more races to go, there’s only three words left to say: Shock the nation.

photo from GoHolyCross.com

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