WESTFIELD, Mass. - The Worcester State men's cross country team closed out the 2016 fall campaign with a 28th place finish at the NCAA Regional Qualifying meet held at Stanley Park on Saturday. Fighting through some late season health adversities, the top seven squad ran a solid race from start to finish in a field that included runners from 61 colleges and universities in the New England region.
Head coach Al Halper commented, "We ran well today despite some minor heath setbacks the past two weeks. Pretty much everyone bounced back with five of the seven runners recording course PRs in a tough and packed field. The guys took the pace out early, trying to avoid getting stuck in a crowd, especially in the woods. They were able to maintain their pace throughout the race for the most part."
"We placed among the same teams with which we have battled all season," said Halper. "Our guys finished strong passing opponents over the final 1000 meters into the finish. While this was probably not our best race of the season, it was pretty close, especially because of the show of determination and effort put forth by the entire team"
Leading the team this meet was sophomore Michael Ricci (Peabody, Mass.) who finished in a time of 27:11.76. Coming in second for the team was junior Devin Luce (Milford, Mass.), a second behind in 27:12.82. In third for the Lancers was sophomore Christian Vera (Worcester, Mass.) in 27:36.39. Fourth and fifth scoring places were pinned down by sophomore Joseph Grider (28:09.99) and freshman Richard Custodio (28:28.32). Rounding out the top seven were senior Will Whearty (28:38.02) and junior Patrick Scheeler (28:45.46 ).
"I am extremely proud of these guys," said Halper. "They came today to run with many knowing their training the past two week was compromised. Only Christian Vera and Will Whearty did not have to adjust their training routine. Despite that, everyone was positive and aggressive in the race and ran to push their limits throughout the race. Captain and senior Will Whearty had an impressive PR and finished his college XC career at the top. It is the way your last race is supposed to be."
Halper ended by stating, "This group will continue to improve even more during the track and field season and already are talking about success blooming for next fall. This is one of the most committed and dedicated group of runners I have had the pleasure to coach. They are hungry for results and are willing to do the work to get there. This was a fun season and the best is yet to come. We will be a relatively young team losing only Will Whearty from our top group of runners. The future is bright!"
The Worcester State cross country runners will now transition to the track with their first indoor contest scheduled for Saturday, December 3, 2016 at the UMass Boston Invitational held at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.