Senior Bryan Wilcox will be one of four Skyhawks making their third career NCAA Championship appearance on Saturday.
Skyhawks coming off runner-up finish at East Region Championship on November 22nd
EASTON, Mass. (December 4, 2014) – The Stonehill College men's cross country team, ranked No. 23 in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division II poll, will compete in its 12th consecutive NCAA Division II Championship this Saturday as part of the NCAA Fall Festival at the E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky at 11 a.m.
Live streams for both the men's and women's championship races can be found at NCAA.com beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Stonehill, which has appeared in every NCAA Championship dating back to 2003, is coming off runner-up finishes at both the Northeast-10 Conference Championship on November 9th on the campus of Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire, and the East Region Championship two weekends later at Mine Falls Park in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Six Skyhawks on the current roster have past NCAA Championship experience, including four that are expected to compete on Saturday. Senior Bryan Wilcox (Plantsville, Connecticut/Southington), who was Stonehill's top finisher at both the NE-10 and East Region Championships, has had the most success at the NCAA Championship level. Wilcox finished 131st with a time of 31:48.7 as a sophomore in 2012 on the campus of Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri, before earning a time of 33:12.5, good for 176th overall, last fall at the Plantes Ferry Park & Sports Complex in Spokane, Washington.
Classmate Dan Zawalich (Paxton, Massachusetts/St. John's) has also competed in each of the last two NCAA Championships for the Skyhawks, posting a 203rd place effort in 32:52.4 in 2012 before finishing 243rd and clocking in at 35:53.1 last season. Zawalich, a second-team All-NE-10 performer this fall, collected his third straight All-Region honor on November 22nd.
Also making their third career NCAA Championship appearances on Saturday will be seniors Trent Fontanella (Pelham, New Hampshire/Bishop Guertin) and Dan Gordon (Plymouth, Massachusetts/Plymouth North). Both Fontanella and Gordon made their NCAA debuts at the 2011 race, which was also held at the Plantes Ferry Park & Sports Complex in Spokane. Fontanella finished 142nd and clocked in at 34:58, while Gordon turned in a time of 34:18.4, good for 124th overall.
Senior Dan Zawalich earned second team All-NE 10 and All-East Region honors leading into Saturday's NCAA Championship race.
Gordon then competed at the 2012 Championship, finishing 199th and earning a time of 32:48.2, before missing last season's race due to injury. Fontanella's second appearance came last fall, as he placed 237th in 35:18.5.
Outside of its experienced senior class, Stonehill will likely turn to three entries making their NCAA debut on Saturday. Senior Michael Gendron (Lowell, Massachusetts/Lowell), who opened his season with a third-place finish at the Shacklette Invitational, earned All-Region honors in the first East Region Championship of his career two weekends ago.
Sophomores Joe Santo (Newburyport, Massachusetts/Newburyport) and Tyler Henseler (Coventry, Rhode Island/Bishop Hendricken) were the final two Skyhawks to cross the finish line at the East Region Championship two weeks after the duo collected All-NE-10 second team accolades.
Senior Paul Cina (Pembroke, Massachusetts/Pembroke) and junior Rob Massey (Chelmsford, Massachusetts/Chelmsford) also have NCAA Championship experience, but have missed time this season due to injury.
Stonehill posted its highest NCAA Championship finish in program history in 2006, when the Skyhawks raced to tenth place among 24 teams at the Escambia County Equestrian Center in Pensacola, Florida. 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, California. 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.