By Ben Dickison and Logan Davis, Guest Writers
This Saturday, Xavier Cross Country traveled to the Mark Coogan Course in North Attleborough, Massachusetts for the Friar Invitational, hosted by Providence College.
The Musketeers competed against runners from Stony Brook, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The hosting Providence Friars in both the men’s and women’s races, while runners for Rhode Island competed only in the men’s race. The women’s race spanned five kilometers, the equivalent of 3.11 miles.
Lily Tuck of Providence crossed the line first, finishing in a blistering 17 minutes and 16 seconds, followed by fellow Friar Shannon Lockhart and Jenna Zydanowicz of UConn. First across the line for Xavier was freshman Jamie Klavon, who recorded a time of 18:30.6, landing her the only top 15 finish for Xavier on the day. She completed her race about a half-minute ahead of teammates Parker Hopkins and Emily Sienna, who finished in 18th and 20th place, respectively.
Freshmen Eilee Ossont and Annie Sinning rounded out the Musketeer delegation in the day’s first race, placing 31st and 32nd with only a three second difference between them. The Musketeer effort fell just short of a podium finish, as Providence defended their home course for a victory, accumulating 23 points among their eight finishers.
Also prevailing over the Musketeers were the Connecticut Huskies and Seawolves of Stony Brook. The five kilometers in Massachusetts on Saturday marked the first encounter with a Big East opponent for the youthful Xavier women’s team.
The women recorded a first place overall finish at the Queen City Invitational hosted by Northern Kentucky University on Sept. 2. The Musketeers will now embark on a nearly one-month hiatus from competition, returning to the course in Louisville on Oct. 1.
The Xavier men took the course around 4:15 p.m., directly following the women’s contest. Also coming off a victory in the Queen City Invitational, the Musketeers were anxious to make the jump from a 5K to 8K race in North Attleborough. Their foes came from the same schools as the women’s race, with the addition of a fleet of Rhode Island Rams and contingent from Brown University.
The Friar Invitational denoted the first collegiate start for three of the five men’s runners, and the new Musketeers fared well, earning a third place overall finish. First-time collegiate starter Aiden Amshoff placed in the top half of the field in his inaugural competitive 8K.
Promptly after the gun fired, Amshoff found fellow Musketeer sophomore Trevor Nolan, freshman Jackson Triplett and freshman Zach Avenel, who stampeded through the first mile in under five minutes. Amshoff found solace in running alongside his Xavier allies, but the pack was separated in between the second and third mile of the contest.
At that point, Amshoff recalls the race becoming “really tough,” but was able to maintain pace by “latching onto guys from other teams” and allowing them to “push him through until the finish.” When Amshoff indeed reached the finish line, three of his teammates were there to greet him- junior Adrian Stuphan (16th place, 25:36.9 finishing time), Trevor Nolan (17th, 25:42.68) and Jackson Triplett (20th, 26:09.73).
Closely following Amshoff was Zach Avenel, who placed 28th with a time of 26:30.76. The Musketeer’s efforts placed them squarely ahead of Brown and New Hampshire, and on top of a highly-contested battle for third with Rhode Island. Providence (19 total points) and Stony Brook (37 total points) were dominant on Saturday, however, as each of the top 13 finishers were either Friars or Seawolves.
This meet was a new experience for all of the fledgling collegiate runners, and one that will help to guide their preparation in the future. Experience at the Mark Coogan Course is key, as it will play host to the Big East Cross Country Championships on Oct. 29.. Now, however, the Musketeers are focused on their upcoming venture down I-71 for the Greater Louisville Classic on Oct. 1.