Preview: Cross Country

Preview: Cross Country

Ryan Thomas

Some people may tell you that cross-country running is boring to watch. It might be boring to watch if you reside in Fairbanks, Alaska or the Mohave Desert. Luckily, we are in Boston, where the fall is a beautiful time of the year and a cross-country race is a place to relax, enjoy a genuine New England autumn and watch pure athletes compete for biped supremacy. At UMass Boston, the men and women’s cross-country teams are competitive in the Little East Conference and first year head coach Sarah Shapiro hopes to keep it that way. “We did lose a lot from [the men’s and women’s] teams, but [between] the new people and the people who have been there, I believe we can continue to win,” former runner and now-head coach Sarah Shapiro said.

Runners to Watch: The Beacons have lost some good runners in the off-season, but they have made some new additions, including Caitlin McQueen and Dan Sanchez. Shapiro says that both newcomers will quickly become “top runners” on the team.

The Leaders: Cassie McKenney, a junior, and sophomore Joy Risko will garner the position of co-captains for the women’s squad. McKenney, who has battled her way back from an injury since last year will be doing all she can for the team. “She won’t be our top runner, but she’s definitely improving,” Shapiro reported.Mike Leavitt, a senior, and Ryan Norton, a sophomore, will wear the C’s for the men’s cross-country squad. Leavitt and Norton finished 16th and 28th respectively in the 2006 Little East Tournament race at Keene State College.

Expectations: After a third place finish in 2006 for the Beacon long-striders, Shapiro hopes to bring the teams back to that same comfort zone. When asked about goals for the season, Shapiro said, “Our goal is to be third in the Little East Conference.” Third place is respectable, considering that Keene State College and the University of Southern Maine are defending LEC champions for the women and men’s teams respectively and they are perennial contenders.

Why Go?: With cross-country running, the reasons are simple. Show up, relax, enjoy the weather and watch the Beacons of UMass Boston run with the best of ’em. The cross-country teams hold competitions at Franklin Park, the 500-acre gem in Boston’s Emerald Necklace, a fantastic place to go in autumn to watch crisp foliage and hasty running. And besides, anyone with the name Sequoia is worth looking into.