After a historic season for the University of Connecticut in the field of cross country neither the men’s nor the women’s teams will be heading to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the NCAA Championships on Nov. 18.
For either team to make the NCAA Championships the Huskies would have had to finish within the top two teams in their region, the NCAA Northeas,t on Friday. The men’s team finished in 11th place and the women’s in 16th. While these performances will not get the team to the next stage of the national competition, the afternoon can be looked at as a positive for the team this year and the program moving forward.
"We had a good year and won the conference championship for the first time in school history. We will work hard and have great performances in the future,” said women’s head coach J.J. Clark, according to UConn Athletics.
Expectations were high for Clark’s team, which was heading into regionals coming off of their first American Athletic Conference Championship in program history. Unfortunately, the team came up short in their quest for an appearance in the National Championship race.
"This isn't the finish we wanted, today just wasn't our day," Clark said, according to UConn Athletics. "We had some bright spots with Mia Nahom placing [29th], just four spots from making the All-Region Team, and Courtney Akerley taking 37th is an improvement from her 68th place finish last season.”
Nahom would be the most prolific runner for the Huskies on that day as she was the first to cross the finish line, with a time of 22:33.3, coming in 29th out of 251 runners. Junior Courtney Akerley came nine spots behind Nahom in 27th finishing at a clip of 22:40.1. The issue on the day for the Huskies would be the inability to finish in bunches, a strategy that seemed to work for them all season long. Sophomore Danielle Jordan came in 105th place with a tie of 23:31.0. Haley Hasty and Mary Monda Oewel would close out the top five finishers for the Huskies, with times of 23:41.2 and 23.52.6.
The women’s meet was won once again by the University of Providence who finished with a total score of 84, blowing away the competition. Dartmouth would earn the other automatic bid to the NCAA Championships coming in second place with a score of 115. The Huskies would finish the day with a score of 448.
As for the men, they finished the day just outside the top-10 in 11th place with a total score of 285. This is an improvement from 2016’s team which finished in 17th place. The Northeast Regionals were won once again by the University of Syracuse for the 8th time in the last nine years, as they had a remarkable score of 28. Iona was the other team to qualify out of the Northeast in the men’s division with a score of 48.
“Conditions were brutal, which is not unexpected for Buffalo in November,” said men’s head coach Greg Roy. “Patrick was All-Northeast Region with his performance and had a really great finish to a beautiful season for him. The rest of our guys really went out and competed. Look at this race and from third to 11th was the difference of around 70 points, that is saying something. I am very pleased with were we finished. We got in there and mixed it up and it was a great race,” according to UConn Athletics.
UConn was led by redshirt junior Patrick Begley who finished with a time of 32:35.9. He would be followed by senior captain Mike O’Donnell in his last NCAA Regionals appearance for the team. He finished the day with a time of 33:21.6 and came in 54th place. A pair of juniors in Michael McGonnigle and Kyle Brackman would follow O’Donnell. McGonnigle finished in 63rd at a clip of 33:33.4 and Brackman in 70th with a time of 33:39.6.
“The kids will talk about this one when they are old and grey. The conditions with what they were, when they got up it was snowing! No one complained one bit, we just got out there and raced,” said Roy according to UConn Athletics.
Kenny Beardsley is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.