UConn men's cross country places ninth in Big East Championship
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 22:10
The UConn men’s cross country team captured a ninth-place finish Friday morning in New York at the Big East Championships, besting its 2011 performance by one spot. The Huskies battled the hilly Van Courtland Park course to score 278 points, beating five of the 14 Big East teams. Syracuse handily won the meet, tallying just 37 points.
In a race dominated by runners from the top three teams (No. 16 Syracuse, No. 27 Georgetown, and Notre Dame) McGuire held his own to finish 34th with a time of 25:31.21 in one of the most competitive cross country conferences in the country. Once again, Jordan Magath finished second for the Huskies with a 55th-place effort, while UConn’s next four runners (James Agati, Tim Bennatan, Alvaro Chavez, and Ned Wilson) placed among the Top-75. Alex Bennatan, Joe Clark, and Stephen Vento were the final three Huskies to cross the line, recording finishes in the Top-100.
For McGuire, the motivation for success in Friday’s race was individual improvement, as he hoped to better his 57th place finish from 2011.
“I was able to achieve my goal by staying focused through the race and pushing myself over the entire course,” McGuire said.
But McGuire wasn’t UConn’s only runner who improved upon a previous Big East finish. All of the squad’s returners--Magath, Tim Bennatan, Alex Bennatan, and Clark--finished several positions higher than at the 2011 championships. Individual and team improvement was the ultimate goal, and the team achieved this on Friday.
“All of our returners placed better than last year,” McGuire said. “This along with our freshmen stepping up helped to improve on last year’s results.”
Although the Big East championship featured several nationally and regionally ranked squads, Syracuse exerted their dominance over the Van Courtland course to outdistance themselves from the field. Villanova, however, entering the meet as the second highest ranked team in the Big East, failed to repeat as team champions and instead finished a distant fifth. Taking advantage of Villanova’s sub-par performance was Georgetown and Notre Dame, who grabbed the final two podium spots in a closely contended race that saw the Hoyas edging out the Irish 67-70. Also finishing in the top five was Providence in fourth place with 109 points.
Leading the Orange to the team title was freshman Martin Hehir, who claimed the individual victory in 24:37.20. Providence’s Shane Quinn and Notre Dame’s Jeremy Rae, finishing closely behind Hehir, rounded out the top three in 24:38.81 and 24:39.39, respectively.
As they walk away from the Big East Championships, the men’s cross country team can’t help but be satisfied by its performance. With each athlete making strides individually that contributed to a better team finish, the Huskies were able to record another solid performance.
“We made these improvements by continuing to put in hard work,” McGuire said. “It’s great to see all the work we put in pay off in the end by improving our results from last year.”