Cross Country: Important weekend ahead for Huskies

The Huskies will be sending their top seven runners to compete in Wisconsin with high expectations. Those runners include juniors Kyle Barber, Patrick Begley, Kyle Brackman and Michael McGonnigle, joined by sophomore Ian Mickool, freshman Eric van der Els and senior captain Mike O’Donnell. (Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus)

The UConn men’s and women’s cross country teams will be competing across the nation Friday in their last races before the American Athletic Conference Championships.

The men’s team will participate in both the esteemed Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin, as well as the Rothenberg Run in Warwick, Rhode Island. The women’s team will also take part in the Rothenburg Run Friday.

The Nuttycombe Invitational is loaded with national talent, and that might be an understatement. The men will have their hands full, as 20 of the 35 competing schools are ranked in the USTFCCCA top-30 men’s cross country teams. Programs including the No. 1 Northern Arizona program, No. 3 Syracuse, No. 4 Stanford, No. 6 Southern Utah and No. 10 Furman will all be in Wisconsin for the meet. Of the remaining 15 schools, eight received votes from coaches to be inside the top-30, including conference rival Tulsa.

"It's an interesting and important weekend for our entire team," men’s head coach Greg Roy said, per UConn Athletics. "The Nuttycombe is the best race in the country outside of the national championship in terms of competition. Our purpose there is to race at a higher level--like at the regional championship. It's a large meet so you are running in space, so you can't necessarily tell how you are doing unless you are at the very front. You need a certain mentality to do well in these large races.”

The Huskies will be sending their top seven runners to compete in Wisconsin with high expectations. Those runners include juniors Kyle Barber, Patrick Begley, Kyle Brackman and Michael McGonnigle, joined by sophomore Ian Mickool, freshman Eric van der Els and senior captain Mike O’Donnell.

“We have big weekend goals,” Roy said.

The men will be sending eight different runners to compete in Rhode Island for the Rothenburg Run on Friday. This meet is huge for the runners not heading to Wisconsin, since it is their last chance to showcase their abilities before the American Athletic Conference Championships and potentially make the lineup for the conference meet.

"Our goal is to win at the Rothenberg and be among the top 10 teams in Wisconsin. If we can do that, we are a top-20 team in the country,” Roy said.

The women’s team will also be headed to the Rothenberg Run Friday, just six days after they placed 16th out of 28 teams at the New England Championships in Boston, Massachusetts.

Last year, the Huskies finished second place in the Rothenburg Run, just behind New England rival Vermont. This is an important race for the women’s team as it will be the final tune-up before the American Athletic Conference Championships, now only 15 days away.

The Nuttycombe Invitational will take place at the Zimmer Championship Course in Madison, Wisconsin and is set to start at around noon on Friday. The Rothenburg Run will be held in Warwick, Rhode Island on Goddard Park.


Kenny Beardsley is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kenneth.beardsley_iii@uconn.edu.