McGuire, Huskies win big at Connecticut College Invitational
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 22:10
The UConn men’s cross country team traveled to Harkness Park Saturday for the Connecticut College Invite and returned to Storrs with the team title and an individual victory from junior Ryan McGuire. The Huskies easily distanced themselves from the rest of the 22-team field, defeating runner-up Connecticut College 86-145. The competition for the next three spots, however, was tight, as Connecticut College edged out fourth place Oneonta by seven points and third place Keene St. by a mere two points. Gwynedd-Mercy College rounded out the top five with a score of 173.
The 2012 Connecticut College Invite featured an unusually large field, as eight more teams competed than in 2011. The increased size of the field made McGuire’s win, his first in a collegiate competition, even more commendable.
In a race that started out at a relaxed pace, the outcome came down to the last 100 meters of what was an exciting final mile. McGuire pulled away from the lead pack around mile four of the eight kilometer race but was surprised when Connecticut College’s Michael Leduc stayed with him.
“Coach Miller and I had planned that I would relax and follow the leaders for the whole race and make my move to win with a mile to go. I guess Leduc had the same plan because he was not with the leaders until the last mile,” McGuire said.
The race came down to two runners in the last mile, with Leduc leading McGuire. But with 100 meters to go, McGuire sprinted by Leduc to outkick him by one second, handing Leduc his second Connecticut College Invite runner-up finish on his home course. An additional highlight for McGuire in an already satisfying performance came in the form of a course record, as his time of 24:53 eclipsed the old mark by two seconds.
“I was able to build confidence in my racing by creating a plan and executing it. I couldn’t have been much happier with my race,” McGuire said.
Saturday’s success was also an indicator of the Huskies’ depth, as three of UConn’s top five, AJ Chavez, Joe Clark and Tim Bennatan, did not race. In addition to relying on frontrunners McGuire and Jordan Magath, who turned out a spectacular sixth-place effort, the team needed its underclassmen to step up and fill the spots vacated by seniors Clark and Bennatan and freshman standout Chavez.
And these athletes did just that, with sophomore James Agati and freshman Ned Wilson becoming UConn’s third and fourth scorers and recording top-20 finishes. Sophomore Stephen
Vento was the final scorer to cross the line in 42nd, closely followed by senior Alex Bennatan.
The seventh spot on the team Saturday went to freshman Daniel Murnane in 81st.
The Connecticut College Invite proved to be a perfect opportunity for the Huskies who competed, whether they raced to win or to gain vital experience as the Big East Championship draws near. And coming home with a win, both team and individual, made the meet just a little more satisfying.