LINCOLN, R.I. – Out of eleven colleges represented in the competition, the Worcester State Lancers won the team title at the Tri-State Invitational at the Flanagan Campus of Community College of Rhode Island Saturday morning, as six Worcester State runners placed in the top 15.
Head coach Al Halper was extremely pleased with the outcome of the race stating, "I thought we had a good shot a winning this competition while being able to work on some key elements during the race and my prediction was correct."
"The competition was strong individually, making our athletes have to establish their position early in the race," added Halper. "The team was told to take the pace out with the leaders early and then settle and run strong as a pack, something we have been doing all along this season."
Worcester State's Michael Ricci (Peabody, Mass.) earned second place in the race, crossing the finish line in a time of 28:58.66. "Mike has accepted the challenge of trying to separate from the pack and run close to the front," said Halper. "He led for a while before yielding to the runner from Johnson and Wales. He gets stronger and more confident each week."
Just 20 seconds behind him were teammates Christian Vera (Worcester, Mass.) and Richard Custodio (Wakefield, Mass.) who came in 5th and 6th places, respectively, in times of 29:24.55 and 29:29.51. "Both of these guys have been running extremely well," commented Halper.
Junior Patrick Scheeler (Wakefield, Mass.) and sophomore Joespeh Grider (Hopedale, Mass.) rounded out the scoring for the Lancers as they came in 11th and 13th in times of 29:44.47 and 29:49.63, respectively.
"We got great races from many of the guys," stated Halper. "Pat Scheeler had his best race of the season in my opinion and Joe Grider shows consistency week after week and again today to finish out the top five.
Senior captain Will Whearty (Walpole, Mass.) had another solid race to be the Lancers' sixth finisher and freshmen Christian Torres (Lowell, Mass.) ran his best collegiate race to date to snag the seventh Lancer position. "Christian stepped it up big today as we sat out several of our top ten runners. He picked the right time to have a "breakthrough" race for us," mentioned Halper.
Halper noted that the course design had been changed due to some construction on campus, making it more challenging with three difficult hill loops to maneuver. "The guys handled the hills well maintaining a strong pace each time they had to conquer the hill portion of the race, and passing the competition along the way," stated Halper. "We had to deal with the hills of our course last week and we were prepared and ready again this week to deal with the adversity brought on by the rainy weather and the hills."
Eastern Connecticut State University came in second place, while Johnson & Whales and Salve Regina marked the third and fourth place spots. Behind them were UMass Boston, CCRI, Framingham State, and Mitchell College.
Next week the team travels to rival Westfield State to compete at the Early Invitational. The meet will include approximately 50 teams and will be a "test run" for many of the colleges, as Westfield State will also be hosting the NCAA regional meet in November.