Skyhawks aim to extend NE10 record of nine championships
EASTON, Mass. (October 20, 2017) – The Stonehill College men's cross country team, ranked first in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) East Regional poll and 15th in the National rankings seeks its ninth Northeast-10 Conference Championship this Sunday, October 22 at Stanley Park in Westfield, Massachusetts, hosted by American International College. The women's event will start at 11:00 a.m., while the men kick off at noon.
Stonehill was picked to finish first in a poll of the league's 15 head coaches with a total of 180 points. The Skyhawks, who have won the conference championship most recently in 2013 have also recorded seven runner-up marks, received ten first-place votes. American International College (184 points) was selected to finish second with five first-place tallies, as Southern New Hampshire University (154 points), Adelphi University (151 points), and Southern Connecticut State University (133 points).
Bentley University leads the Conference with 13 titles, as the Skyhawks follow with eight and Springfield College and UMass Lowell have collected six apiece. From 2002-13, Stonehill and UMass Lowell switched off capturing the title, except in 2007 when both teams were co-champions.
This year, the men have posted four first-place results out of the four meets that they participated in. Stonehill earned its first title at the Shacklette Invitational in Manchester, New Hampshire, as five Skyhawks finished in the top-10 competitors. The next weekend, the men's squad took on the Kutztown Division II/III Challenge, where four Skyhawks placed in the top-10. Stonehill also took first at the 49th Codfish Bowl held at Franklin Park and had three cross the finish in the top 10. Most recently, Stonehill took home its first New England Championship in program history, totaling 119 points in the meet, and seeing two Skyhawks take home All-New England honors.
Leading the team this year are captains Kenny Vinacco (Scituate, Rhode Island/Scituate), Jimmy Murphy (Mansfield, Massachsetts/Mansfield), and Riley Dowd (Peabody, Massachusetts/Peabody Veterans Memorial). Vinacco, who posted a 24th-place mark at the New England Championship, finished 47th in last years' NE10 Championship. This season, he finished seventh in Kutztown with a time of 26:45.07.
After finishing fifth in the sub-varsity New England Championship last season, Murphy had an impressive appearance at this years championship with a fifth-place mark in the varsity race for his first All-New England honor in cross country. In his senior season, Murphy was also the runner-up at the Division II/III Challenge, while also placing eighth at the Codfish Bowl. Junior Dowd has lead the Skyhawks this season as he earned his first individual title by taking first at the Division II/III Challenge, posting a time of 26:28.0, and leading Stonehill at the Codfish Bowl, taking seventh overall. Dowd also was named to the All-New England team this year with a ninth-place finish at the Championships. He will make his third appearance in the NE10 Championships this weekend, where he posted a 11th-place mark last year.
Junior Alexander Demeule (Merrimac, Massachusetts/Pentucket Regional) is also a veteran at the NE10 Championships, as he has competed during his freshman and sophomore years, finishing 34th and 19th, respectively. Senior Alex Southiere (Cumberland, Rhode Island/Cumberland) palced 27th in last years' NE10 Championship and crossed the finish 82nd in this years' New England Championship. Southiere competed at the Shacklette Invitational and finished third, while also crossing the finish line 35th at the Division II/III Challenge.
Junior Lucas Taxter (Readville, Massachusetts/Xaverian Brothers) will be making his second-career appearance at the championship, where he previously took seventh last season for his first All-Conference nod. This year, Taxter crossed the finish 18th in Kutztown, 23rd at Franklin Park, and 43rd at the New England Championship. Classmate Christopher Drace (Franklin, New Jersey/Pope John XXIII) will be competing in his second NE10 Championship, where he last finished 52nd as a sophomore. Drace has finished 10th and 14th this season at the Shacklette Invitational and the Division II/III Challenge, respectively.
Along with Drace, senior Sam Bradford (Bedford, Massachusetts/Bedford) will also be running in his second NE10 Championship. This season, Bradford ran in all four races this season, taking the title at the Shacklette Invitational while also posting 19th-and 22nd-place marks at the Division II/III Challenge and Codfish Bowl, respectively. He also placed 66th at the New England Championship.
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