BY RYAN TOUHEY
Sacred Heart University’s men’s and women’s cross-country teams are both in the early stage of their seasons and are looking to contend for their respective Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship.
The season began for both teams at the Stony Brook University Season Opener on Sept. 1. After that, they both ran at the Nassaney Invitational at Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I. on Sept. 8.
“The athletes have been showing up and have been ready to work,” said head coach Christian Morrison. “This is a sport where you have to be consistent in your daily approach to be a good runner.”
This season, both teams have lost some key members due to graduation, such as Trevor Guerrera of the men’s side and Kate Svensen of the women’s side.
According to the Sacred Heart website, Guerrera finished fourth in the men’s NEC Championships and became the first runner in the program’s history to earn All-NEC honors throughout his four years of college. Svensen was the 2017 Individual Conference Champion on the women’s side. She was also named the 2017 NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year due to her athletic and academic achievements.
“When people graduate the next wave comes along and fills in,” said Morrison. “You expect ongoing improvement and development from all of your athletes over the course of time.”
Men’s senior captain Dane Krchnavy has seen such progression in the sophomores and juniors on his team. He feels that it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that the first-year runners feel comfortable and welcome.
“The first-year runners this year have fit in right away,” said Krchnavy. “They have a great attitude, which is definitely what every good team needs.”
The men’s team has two first-year runners this season, Corey Picard and Aidan Tucker.
“The transition from high school to college has not been too difficult,” said Picard. “The level of running, especially the frequency of workouts is harder.”
Some of the workouts that Picard and the team do to prepare themselves include long-runs on Sundays, tempo workouts, and track workouts.
“But the distance is only a few miles more than what I was used to in high school, so that made the adjustment easier and more comfortable,” said Picard.
The women’s team on the other hand, has graduate student and captain Tara Connelly back. Connelly was one of the women’s top scorers last year and she has senior Emma Cary as a co-captain this season. The two of them and the rest of the upperclassmen have welcomed nine first-year runners to their team this season.
Cary believes that these runners will gradually improve and become acclimated to the college environment as the season goes on.
“It’s hard to get on this team as a first-year right away,” said Cary. “But there’s definitely a couple of first-year runners that can be right up there and score.”
One of the first-year runners, Angela Kaiser, said that the training she’s been doing may enable her to increase her mileage and run in some of the longer races this season. She’s also thankful for the leadership that Cary and the rest of the team have provided her since arriving on the scene.
“The upperclassmen have always been willing to help us since the first day, whether it would be questions about our classes or teaching us how to plan our weekly mileage,” said Kaiser. “I’m not sure what we (first-year runners) would do without them.”
Both teams have this week off from running races. Their next meets are at the Ted Owen Invitational at Stanley Quarter Park in New Britain, Conn, on Sept. 22.