BY Mikenzie Carbone
The Men’s and Women’s Cross Country team dealt with a three week grace period of no meets, but now have entered the latter half of their season. On Oct. 12, the Pioneer runners competed at the New England Championship at Franklin Park in Boston to mark their fourth meet of the season.
The New England Championship was the beginning of a two week period that includes three meets that lead up to the Northeast Conference (NEC) championship season that begins on Nov. 2 in New Britain, Conn.
According to Sacred Heart athletics, at Franklin Park, the Men’s Cross Country team placed 24 out of 25 teams, and the Women’s team placed 12 out of 22 teams.
Junior Moetiz Shilleh led the male Pioneers for his fourth consecutive meet as the first male to cross the finish line for Sacred Heart. Shilleh’s time was 26:39.0, shaving off more than a minute from his last clocked time at the Ted Owen Invitational a few weeks prior.
“Obviously being the first finisher on our team has been a blessing, but I ultimately never look at it like that. I just never want to let my team down so I run as hard as I can every meet,” said Shilleh. “If that results in me leading the pack, so be it. I want to do anything possible to help my team succeed.”
Junior Ryan Corbett was close behind Shilleh crossing the finish line at 27:26.2 and senior Nicholas Pandolfo finished at 28:17.1, which is 90 seconds faster than his personal record.
First-year Andrew Asselta, junior Christopher Gillis, and senior Justin Klotz competed in the 8k event at Franklin Park. The Pioneers placed ninth out of 10 teams in the 8k event. Klotz finished the course at 28:54.8, 58 out of 93 runners.
For the female runners, seniors Jacqueline Thorne and Olivia Weiss led the Pioneers finishing as the top two runners for Sacred Heart. Thorne placed first for the team at 18:58.8 (44th out of 154 runners) and Weiss followed behind her crossing the finish line at 18:59.5 (45th out of 154 runners), which are their best personal records to date.
The duo has continued to run side by side for the 2019 season, with Thorne placing first for the Pioneers in four consecutive meets.
“Olivia is the perfect training partner for me, we complement each other in this sport very nicely,” said Thorne. “My weaknesses are Olivia’s strengths, and vica versa.”
Weiss transferred from Bryant University in Providence, R.I. Bryant University also competes in the Northeast Conference.
“The fact that I transferred from a school within our conference gave me a very interesting perspective,” said Weiss. “I had always known who Jackie was since we ran against each other quite frequently, but becoming her teammate was a whole different story.”
Sophomore Gaelyn Kattman followed behind Thorne and Weiss. Kattman finished at 19:23.0 (65th out of 154 runners), which is progress from her time last year at the New England Championship with a time of 19:46.4.
Female runners competed in a 5K varsity sub event, with junior Brigit Kelly finished at 20:20.0 (60th out of 157 competitors).
Competition is high for both the men and women runners as they face competitors from different NCAA Divisions in the Northeast.
“I think the main attribute that really drives our team and leads us to the success that our program is really known for is a simple one, hard work,” said Thorne. “Whether it be early lift sessions before class, long runs on Sunday mornings in the rain, or meets every weekend.”
The runners next meet will take place at Hard’ack Recreation Area in Saint Albans, Vt., on Oct. 19 for the Vermont Invitational. This meet marks the second competition in the two-week span for the Pioneers.