By Devin Lachapelle – Contributing Writer
Led by three individual top-ten performances for the women and two individual top-ten performances for the men, UMF’s women’s and men’s cross country teams earned second and third place finishes at the North Atlantic Conference Cross Country Championships, which took place in Farmington for the first time in ten years.
UMF’s top female runner was Katie LeBlanc, who placed second out of ninety-five total runners. Teammates Laura Pulito, Gwen Baker, Chloe Kenyon and Molly Jack finished fifth, eighth, twenty-third and twenty-fourth, respectively.
UMF’s best male runner of the day was Jeremiah Sands, who finished second in a field of eighty-five. Robbie Hollis finished in eighth, while David Doering, Cory McCullough, and Connor Marland rounded out the rest of UMF’s scoring positions at eighteenth, thirtieth and thirty-third.
The NAC Championships were held on the Mt. Blue High School campus in Farmington, which Hollis, a captain of the men’s team, said was to the advantage of the UMF runners.
“It’s a slow course, considering the hills, and mentally we knew we would have that edge as a team if we trained here,” he said.
Hollis, in his fourth year at UMF, said he was excited that Farmington had the chance to host such a big event. “There’s a set schedule where it’s decided where the North Atlantic Conference meet is held each year,” he said, “and it was good to see that NACs were going to be held here my senior year.”
Pulito, a captain of the women’s team, agreed with Hollis and said that much of both teams’ conditioning activities involve exercises designed specifically for the trail system at Mt. Blue. “This is our home course, so we train on it all season and we know it really well,” she said. “We do a lot of hill workouts because there are so many hills on this course.”
Pulito mentioned that preparation for races is not only physical but also mental. “We do a lot of visualization where we sit in a circle and [coach Dan Campbell] brings us through the race,” she said, “and we sit there with our eyes closed and picture the whole thing.”
Moninda Marube, an assistant coach of both the men’s team and the women’s team, said that he was extremely pleased with the tenacity shown by his runners during the race.
“Mentally and emotionally they’re very strong,” he said. “They worked hard; I saw them push, and it really worked out.”
Marube emphasized that his role as a coach was that of a supportive mentor and that the UMF runners deserved most of the credit for the team’s success.
“My purpose is to help them focus and not be nervous,” he said. “They prepared themselves very well. I’m impressed.”
The women’s and men’s teams will both be participating in the NCAA New England Regional Championships in Gorham, Maine later this month.
Full results from the NAC Cross Country Championships and details about the upcoming NCAA Regional meet can be found at http://athletics.umf.maine.edu/sports/wxc/2017-18/schedule for the women and http://athletics.umf.maine.edu/sports/mxc/2017-18/schedule for the men.