The UConn cross country team will travel to New Orleans to compete in the sixth American Athletic Conference Championship race on Thursday morning.
Despite dealing with numerous injuries for most of the season, the Huskies are pleased that they’re heading down to the Big Easy with a squad that is at full strength.
Head coach Greg Roy said to UConn Athletics saying, “This is the strongest we have been this year that’s for sure.”
240 athletes from the 12 conference schools will be at the Golf Club at Audubon Park to try to bring a conference title back home to their school.
UConn has finished in fourth place or better every year that the race has been in existence. They finished fourth in 2013, 2014 and 2016. In 2015 and 2017, the Huskies finished in second place.
This could be the year that UConn finally overtakes Tulsa, who has won four consecutive conference championships.
UConn will be led in the 8K race by redshirt senior captain Patrick Begley, who made his season debut last race at Princeton. He finished sixth overall in the American championship race last year.
Redshirt senior Michael McGonnigle also made his season debut at Princeton and will be ready to go for Thursday. He missed the championship race last year but finished 24th overall in 2016 and 13th overall as a freshman back in 2014.
UConn will also need strong performances from senior Kyle Brackman, who finished 15th overall in the championship last year, redshirt sophomore Eric van der Els, who finished 21st, and junior James Mas, who finished 16th.
The Huskies have turned in good performances in every race so far this year, so it will be interesting to see if they will continue when it really counts. The Huskies have finished second in the Minutemen Invitational, 19th in the Paul Short Invitational and, since they’ve had their full roster back and healthy, fourth in the Princeton Invitational.
If all the runners perform up to their capabilities, UConn has a really good chance to earn their first cross country conference title in school history. For a school with a long and storied athletic background like UConn, that would be quite the accomplishment for this team.
The race was moved up to a 9:50 a.m. start time due to weather concerns. It can be live streamed on Facebook via the American Digital Network.
Danny Barletta is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.