#20 Stonehill Gearing Up For 11th Straight NCAA Championship Appearance

Senior Stephen Leonard has posted back-to-back top-10 finishes for Stonehill at the NE-10 Championship and the East Region Championship.

Skyhawks coming off East Region and NE-10 titles

EASTON, Mass. (November 21, 2013) – The Stonehill College men's cross country team, ranked 20th in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division II poll, and ranked first in the East Region, will compete in its 11th consecutive NCAA Division II National Championship this Saturday at the Plantes Ferry Athletic Complex in Spokane, Washington.

On November 10th, Stonehill collected its third East Region Championship in program history, and first since 2007, as the Skyhawks ran to a first place finish among 28 schools at Franklin Park in Boston, Mass. Two weekends before that, Stonehill won its third consecutive Northeast-10 Championship with a 57-point effort in Manchester, N.H. on the campus of Saint Anselm College.

Stonehill has not relied on a clear-cut number one runner this season, but rather on its overall depth from top to bottom. At the East Region Championship, sophomore Robert Massey (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford) spearheaded Stonehill's balanced attack with an eighth place finish, his first top-10 effort of the season. Massey finished 15th in the conference championship and 12th at the Shacklette Invitational on September 7th to open up his 2013 season.

Senior Stephen Leonard (Chatham, N.J./Chatham) has posted back to back top-10 finishes, as he was Stonehill's top finisher at the NE-10 Championship (seventh overall), and then followed that performance up with a ninth place finish at the Regional Championship. Leonard also finished 17th at the DII Challenge on September 14th.

Junior captain Bryan Wilcox (Plantsville, Conn./Southington) has registered consecutive impressive performances as well, as he ran to a 14th place finish at the NE-10's before placing 11th at the East Region meet. Classmate Daniel Zawalich (Paxton, N.J./St. John's) crossed the finish line 23rd in both the NE-10 Championship and the East Region Championship, and he was Stonehill's top finisher at the New England Championships on October 12th, as he placed 59th among a field of Division I, II, and III competitors. 

Junior captain Bryan Wilcox was Stonehill's top finisher at the 2012 NCAA Championship.

Seniors Scott Waller (Andover, Mass./Andover), Nate Webber (Atkinson, N.H./Central Catholic), and Trent Fontanella (Pelham, N.H./Bishop Guertin) were Stonehill's final three finishers at the East Region Championship, as they placed 27th, 34th, and 36th, respectively. Fontanella posted his best finish of the season (8th place) at the NE-10 Championship, while Waller's best effort came at the Shacklette Invitational, where he placed fifth overall. Like Waller, Webber's best finish also came at the season-opening Shacklette Invitational, as he finished seventh overall and fourth among Skyhawks.

Leonard, Waller, Wilcox, and Massey garnered All-Conference accolades for their top-21 finishes at the NE-10 Championship, while Zawalich, Massey, Leonard and Wilcox earned All-Region honors for finishing in the top-25 at the East Region Championship. Head Coach Karen Boen was named the Northeast-10 Coach of the Year for the fifth time on the men's side, and she also collected her second men's East Region Coach of the Year recognition.

Several of Stonehill's current student-athletes have experience competing at the NCAA Championship in years past. Wilcox was the first Skyhawk to cross the finish line at last year's national meet, as he placed 131st overall in Joplin, Mo., on the campus of host school Missouri Southern State University. Zawalich and Leonard finished 203rd and 215th, respectively, to round out Stonehill's participants in 2012.

Two seasons ago, Waller and Fontanella finished back-to-back, 141st and 142nd, respectively, at the NCAA Championship held in Spokane at the same complex that will host this year's event. As a freshman in 2010, Waller placed 124th out of 182 total competitors at the Championship in Louisville, Ky., at Tom Sawyer State Park.

Stonehill, which will be competing at the NCAA Championship for the 11th straight year, posted its highest finish in program history in 2006, when the Skyhawks raced to a tenth place finish among 24 teams at the Escambia County Equestrian Center in Pensacola, Fla. Stonehill also registered 12th place team finishes in 2003 and 2005.

Individually, Stonehill's top performance at an NCAA Championship came in 2005, when sophomore David Metzger, '08, became the third All-American in program history with his 24th place finish in 32:31.9 at Prado Park in Pomona, Calif. Stonehill boasted an impressive streak of four consecutive seasons (2003-06) in which a Skyhawk earned All-American Honors.

Mario Fraioli, '04, a Stonehill Hall of Famer, started the run in 2003, followed by Sean Mckeon, '05, in 2004, Metzger in 2005, and junior Keith Gill, '08, capped off the streak in 2006 with his 27th place finish as part of Stonehill's 10th place team effort in Pensacola.

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