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X-country teams look to dominate again
Success has become the expectation for the Quinnipiac men’s and women’s cross country teams. Two Northeast Conference championships in the last three years, for both squads, have vaulted the Bobcat runners to a status of NEC royalty and this year the crown is expected to stay in Hamden.
“Both teams have a mix of upperclassmen leadership and talented underclassmen,” women’s head coach and men’s assistant coach Shawn Green said. “It was a lot of fun sweeping last year and we want to defend our titles.”
On the men’s side, the loss of nine seniors from last year will be the major obstacle to overcome for three-time NEC Coach of the Year Ed O’Connor.
“We’re looking to defend the conference title after having lost a lot of guys,” Green said. “I think realistically though, that even if we run our best we’ll still slip back a little bit.”
The somewhat depleted team will be led by captain and three-time all-NEC Jacob Gurzler. Gurzler, whom assistant coach Green said hasn’t always had the best off-season workouts, maintained a stricter training regiment over the summer and returns appearing to be in midseason form.
“Even though I was a captain last year, I do feel an added sense of pressure to perform this year because I’m a senior,” Gurzler said. “As a senior you want to go out on top.”
A small battalion of juniors rounds out the cream of the crop for QU. All-NEC recipients Terence Moriarty and Nick Rezendes, accompanied by Daniel Martin and Jack McDonald, will support Gurzler in keeping the NEC title in Hamden.
“We’re a real tight knit group,” Moriarty said. “We’re all good friends and we all work well off each other in races.”
The women’s cross country team which may have more to boast about this fall, has hair slightly longer than the men but a stride just as true.
The Quinnipiac women’s cross country team epitomizes the word “depth.” “This team is flat out loaded,” Green admitted. “This year we’re looking beyond just the conference and setting our sights on the New England region and the rest of the Northeast.”
And the team has reason to believe the sky is the limit. Led by the 2006 NEC Outstanding Performer of the Year, Kristen Stevens, the Bobcats have an astounding blend of veteran leadership and young talent.
“Everybody’s come back this year running better than ever,” Stevens said. “A lot of the girl’s had great summers and came back in great shape.”
Stevens is recovering from a stress fracture injury but will be back in action on Sept. 15.
“Coach wants me to take it easy for now,” said Stevens, the NEC Rookie of the Year. “Hopefully I’ll be in peak form, if not stronger, for the NEC’s.”
QU also returns four all-NEC performers in seniors Susan Ashe, Caitlin Brady, and Abbey Gosling, and sophomore Lindsey Pierret. And beyond this quartet the list of impact runners continues: Chelsea Bollerman, Ashley Reichelt, Sasha Varanka and freshman Kelly Sorrell are all capable of top 20 finishes.
Both squads had impressive outings in the season-opening meet at Stony Brook.
The men, led by Gurzler’s sixth place finish, came in second behind Iona College, a team who finished third at the NCAA championships last year.
The women, running without three of their top runners, managed to finish second, one point behind Stony Brook. Pierret led the way for the Bobcats, finishing second.
“I was very happy with the way both teams performed,” said Green. “Considering the circumstances, that was about as much as we could ask for.”