Women’s XC captures regional title
November 4th was another historic day for the Assumption College Women’s Cross Country team. Coming off a second place finish at the NE10 Conference Championships two weeks prior, the girls hoped to capitalize on their strong performance. Unlike the last two years, where the Regionals were hosted in Manchester, New Hampshire, the Hounds faced an entirely new course in New York. Having rained the day before, the muddy conditions were not ideal for a cross country meet, but this did not deter the girls from reaching their goal: winning first place in the region.
In terms of the numbers, Assumption won the meet with a score of 45 points. Senior Antonia Pagliuca was the first Hound to cross the finish line at 22:58.2, which earned her second place overall. She was followed by senior Courtney Fisher (23:22.5), sophomore Kialeigh Marston (23:25), and senior Megan Corbeil (23:27.4), who all completed the race within five seconds of each other. Finishing out the seven-person squad was senior Elizabeth Sullivan (24:04.4) and juniors Charlotte Allen (24:40.08) and Sara Amato (25:11.7). The team managed to edge Stonehill College, the reigning Regional champions for seven out of the last nine years, out of the top position and claim the title for the first time in program history.
When asked about the team’s success so far, head coach Trent Baltzell pointed to the instrumental progress they have made in past seasons, “The senior-heavy women’s team put together four years of focused training and finally reaped the rewards with Assumption’s first ever major victory.” The team’s rise to the top of the rankings was a gradual process, with both old and new faces helping to guide the program in the right direction. Last year, the team had secured a spot behind Stonehill in the National Championships, the first cross country program to ever do so at Assumption. Heading into this season, Coach Baltzell noted that the girls may have not realized just how close they could be to taking first in the region, but when they did, “You could see it in their faces and hear it in their tone. When they raced, you noticed something new: confidence. There was no doubt in my mind that they were going to end up with a win.”
While the women’s team reached unprecedented success at Regionals, they were not the only ones to do so. The men’s team also ran to their best finish by placing 9th out of 23 teams and had four runners, Andrew Lamb, Ryan Mardo, Will Mardo, and Michael Spooner, all earn spots in the top 50 of the region. Although they may not be joining their teammates this year, Coach Baltzell was pleased with the progress they have made throughout the season, especially considering some of the top scorers were new to the program, “The expectation was to buy in to coach Liam Hillery’s plan for them and they [men’s team] did just that. By the end of the year, they achieved their highest regional finish in program history. Led by a trio of freshman, it can only go up from there.”
Nationals are only days away and Coach Baltzell is looking forward to the big event. He strongly believes the women’s team has the potential to exceed expectations and move up in the rankings, “Although we are currently #26 nationally, a top 20 finish is likely at the NCAA Championships. That will just be icing on the cake in what has turned out to be a fairy-tale ending to my first season [as head coach] at Assumption.”
Jacqueline Ryan, a junior, studies environmental science. She is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.