|Stonehill College cross country head coach Karen Boen previews the 2012 Northeast-10 Conference (NE-10) Championships.|
Top-seven depth will be key to the Skyhawks back-to-back conference title chances this weekend
EASTON, Mass. (October 17, 2012) – The Stonehill College men's cross country team, ranked 12th overall in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) Division II national poll and first in the East Regional poll, will compete for its second-straight Northeast-10 Conference (NE-10) championship this Saturday in Syracuse, N.Y. at Le Moyne College.
Stonehill enters the 2012 NE-10 Championships this weekend as the favorite in the East Region after the Skyhawks surpassed UMass Lowell, currently ranked second overall, at the Paul Short Invitational with a strong showing. Stonehill posted a 21st place finish scoring 623 points among several NCAA Division I programs in the 37-team field while the River Hawks scored 731 points for 26th overall.
The Skyhawks backed up that performance with a 14th place finish overall at the New England Championships on October 7 without running a single member of its top-seven. Stonehill ranked third among ten NCAA Division II schools topping UMass Lowell and Southern Connecticut State University, who finished second at last year's NE-10 Championships, among others in the group.
Since 2002, the conference championship has been claimed by either UMass Lowell or Stonehill with the River Hawks holding a slim, 6-5, advantage in the series. In 2007, both teams tied for the NE-10 title scoring 35 points apiece. UMass Lowell took first, second and fourth places individually while Stonehill ranked third, fifth and sixth individually to cause the tie.
Without a clear-cut no.1 runner this season, Stonehill will look to several members of its top-seven to finish in a pack within the top-10 of the race. Senior tri-captain Ethan Penney (Haverhill, Mass./Haverhill) produced in his only race this season at the Minutemen Invitational on September 15 with a third place finish in a career-best time of 24:26.42 on the 8-kilometer course.
Junior Paul Cina (Pembroke, Mass./Pembroke) has put together two impressive races this season ranking ninth overall at the Minutemen Invitational in 24:47.13 and 85th overall at the Paul Short Run on September 28 with a time of 25:23. Classmate Trent Fontanella (Pelham, N.H./Bishop Guertin) looks to continue his consistency this fall after running times of 25:43.59 (Minutemen Invitational, 40th), 26:14 (Paul Short Open Run, 45th) and 26:16.80 (New England Championships, 141st).
Stonehill's trio of sophomores compromised of Daniel Gordon (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth North), Bryan Wilcox (Plantsville, Conn./Southington) and Daniel Zawalich (Paxton, Mass./St. John's) will also look to make an impact on Saturday. At the Minutemen Invitational, Gordon finished tenth overall in 24:52.67, Zawalich was 11th overall in 24:53.58 and Wilcox rounded out the group with a 13th place showing with a time of 24 minutes and 57.20-seconds.
Senior tri-captain Sean Hanlon (Georgetown, Mass./St. John's Prep) has a second place finish overall to his credit this season at the Shacklette Invitational on September 8 with a time of 27:21.2 and has improved upon that time each meet this year clocking 24:54.30 at the Minutemen Invitational and 25:51 at the Paul Short Run (137th overall). Stephen Leonard (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) enters the NE-10 Championships with the Skyhawks fastest time in their last meet as the junior turned in a career best performance with a time of 25:15.52.
After the conclusion of the NE-10 Championships this Saturday, Stonehill returns to action on Sunday, November 4 at the NCAA Division II East Regionals in Nashua, N.H. at Mines Falls Park. The Skyhawks will look to clinch their tenth-straight trip to the NCAA Championships.