By Abby Shields Contributing Writer
On October 28, the women’s cross country team set out on the course, striving to get to their goal of being conference champions at Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, Maine.
“I felt very confident in our students to go out and run to their potential. I feel very fortunate to coach outstanding student-athletes,” said Joseph DiSalvo, coach of the cross country team. “They all prepared very well for this race, and I had confidence in them that they would go and execute well,” said Joseph Disalvo, coach of the cross country team.
The course was destroyed for the meet, because six races took place there the day before. It had also been raining and snowing leading into race day, making the course very muddy and slippery. The entire course was covered in water and mud, making it a tougher challenge, but they were all very prepared. “The weather conditions were cold and rainy,” said Gwen Baker, a senior at UMF. “The women’s team however had always performed well in poor conditions and this day was no exception.”
Everyone on the team had a different way of preparing for the race that day. “ To prepare for races I go over the course in my head and look at the teams we are going against,” said Julia Labbe, in an email interview. “I look up their past times to see who I should be around, and who I should look out for. I imagine where I can (or want) to make my moves in the race, and it helps me form a positive, motivated mindset.”
Their total score ended up being a 41, beating Husson by 5 points. After hearing the news from assistant coach Ryan Smith, many emotions arose for the runners who gave it their all. “I felt many different emotions. The top five runners score for their team. Team packing is crucial in attaining a low score,” said Baker. “We finished 3rd, 4th, 8th, 12th and 14th place. It was an amazing, surreal moment.”
“This win was really exciting because UMF was seated second, only one point behind Husson so we knew we had to give it our all,” said Labbe. Everyone at that meet gave it their all, pushing each other to a great finish.
“I am very proud of each and every student on this team,” said DiSalvo. “It takes a full team effort to win a conference championship, and they certainly worked hard for this accomplishment.”
Every runner stepped up and ran strong for the UMF cross country team, representing Farmington very well. Ending the season with first place in all conference was a huge accomplishment for the women’s team.
“We had a strong consistent women’s team. We dominated in many of the meets that had our conference teams in them,” said Baker. “With bigger meets we still did well and I’m excited to see what the women’s team can do next year! We’re going to be even better with gaining back strong runners we didn’t have this year.”
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.”
UMFs Robbie Hollis approaches the finish line as assistant coach Moninda Morube (left) watches.
Photo Courtesy of Devin Lachapelle
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.