UConn men's cross country team is ready for it's first meet of the year
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 23:09
After weeks of training, the UConn men’s cross country team returns to action Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the UMass Invite in Amherst, Mass..
Toeing the line for the five-mile race will be a squad of experienced Connecticut athletes, as well as respectable New England teams from UMaine, Vermont, American International College, Amherst College and UMass.
At last year’s invite, senior Nick Aguila led the Huskies to a team title, but the loss of the former captain and the emergence of some talented underclassmen and middle distance runners will bring a new team dynamic to the starting line on Saturday.
“Our whole group is competitive,” said Coach Richard Miller. “Jordan Magath and Ryan McGuire could contend to win the race, and our three track guys—Joe Clark, Tim Bennatan, and Alex Bennatan are working to close the gap [with the lead pack] from last year.”
Connecticut’s lineup features six freshmen, who will not race Saturday in order to get some additional training under their belts before they make their collegiate debuts. These newcomers begin their college careers with varied experience levels, and should be contributing to the squad in the near future.
With the combination of frontrunners Jordan and Ryan and depth from UConn’s middle distance standouts, Miller believes his squad is positioned to defend its 2011 victory. But UMass will prove a difficult challenge for the Huskies. The Minutemen, although unranked in the Northeast region so far this season, should still be a formidable competitor.
“UMass is a very solid team,” Miller said. “Seeing how we stack up against them is a good measure of where we stand.”
Although UConn is currently ranked No. 13 in the Northeast, a decline from their tenth-place finish at the 2011 regional meet, the team is not placing too much emphasis on rankings yet. The Huskies are coming off another grueling week of training and will use this meet as more of a workout than a serious race. They will continue to train intensely through mid-October before they start to fine-tune their fitness for specific championship meets.
“At the end of the day, the championship meets—the New England Championship, the Big East Championship and the Regional Championship—are the gauges of our team performance,” Miller said.
Even considering the loss of Aguila and other seniors from the 2011 season, UConn seems to be having no problem finding athletes to step up and perform at the team’s highest level.
“Our top three guys are as good as anyone last year,” Miller said. “And we are looking for our next four to step up and close the gap on the front pack.”
While the entire season lies ahead of them, Miller notes that the Huskies have a solid base mileage and are in great shape, which should prime them for excellence at not only the UMass Invite this weekend, but throughout the championship season.