BY: JOHN FLANIGAN
The Sacred Heart University cross-country team has started the season with numerous athletes being recognized by Sacred Heart Athletics and the Northeast Conference (NEC) for their performances. In the season opener at Stony Brook University on Sept. 2, senior captain Kate Svenson took home the NEC Female Athlete of the Week honor.
“I worked really hard over the summer, and it’s starting to pay off,” Svensen said. “Having your teammates by your side to push you helps even more.”
According to the Sacred Heart Athletic Communications press release, Svensen accomplished her first career individual win with a time of 13:50:35 over four meters at Stony Brook. Svensen’s time was 6.4 seconds faster than any other competitor in her race, setting the record for the fastest time in Sacred Heart program history.
Freshmen Bonnie Wilder and Moetiz Shilleh also were honored with NEC Female and Male Rookie of the Week for their showings at the same meet.
In her collegiate debut, Wilder finished with a 4K time of 15:09:19, placing in sixteenth overall at the meet. Wilder’s 4K time was the second fastest showing by a freshman in program history.
“I wasn’t really expecting it (Female Athlete of the Week). It feels good to be one of the fastest women to run the course for Sacred Heart,” Wilder said. “It’s a little bit nerve-racking because now I have to keep up to those standards, but it’s really exciting that I am better than I thought.”
Shilleh posted the fastest 6K time by a freshman in Sacred Heart’s program history. Shilleh finished thirteenth overall with a time of 19:00:74.
“To set the record feels great, I really want to set a good standard for myself. I came here for a reason and I want to accomplish a lot of things,” Shilleh said. “Being named Male Rookie of the Week was something I never thought would happen. I really appreciate it and am very happy that the NEC awarded it to me.”
The team’s impressive start continued onto the second meet on Sept. 9 at the University of Massachusetts. Seniors Tara Connelly and Trevor Guerrera took home NEC Female and Male Athlete of the Week for their performances.
Guerrera finished the UMass Invite in sixth place out of 78 runners, with a time of 19:25. He was 24 places higher and more than 30 seconds faster than he was at last year’s Invite.
“Finishing the race I was pretty excited,” Guerrera said. “Being named NEC Male Athlete of the Week is always cool. It feels nice knowing that a good race is being recognized.”
Tara Connelly, a two-time All-NEC honoree, finished her 5K eighth overall with a time of 18:16.
“To start off the season this way was exciting,” Connelly said. “It showed that our team is ready to fight to regain our title as NEC champions. For now, we just have to keep working and let our training and dedication be shown in our races and workouts.”
The team’s next meet is Sept. 23 at Stanley Quarter Park in New Britain, Conn. for the 15th Annual Central Connecticut State University Ted Owen Invitational.
“They have all worked hard to become the runners they are, so I’m happy to see them get some recognition for their commitment and dedication,” said Christian Morrison, the head coach for men’s and women’s cross country. “We look forward to seeing what our full squad can do over the rest of the season.”