WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – Sophomore Billy Martin (West Islip, N.Y.) and junior captain Sean Hughes (Old Saybrook, Conn.) finished in the middle of a competitive 373-man field to lead Salve Regina in the NCAA Division III New England Regional Championship on Saturday. The Seahawks finished 40th of 61 scoring teams.
The Seahawk harriers got boxed in off of the starting line and wound up near the back of the pack less than 400 meters into the 8K race at Mt. Greylock Regional High School. Hughes and Martin spent their opening miles moving through the field, each gaining more than 100 spots as the race developed. Martin reached three miles at 17:08 and Hughes was not far behind at 17:22 as they moved inside 200th place. Martin finished at 28:43.4, while Hughes crossed the line at 28:46.4 – at 185th and 189th overall.
"Billy and Sean never had a chance to settle today, and they did what they could do to overcome a dreadful start," said head coach Rob McGuinness. "This is not a race where we could afford a tactical error. We made mistake off the line and it cost us. We'll learn from this experience."
Freshmen John Lutz (Ringwood, N.J.), Dave Napierkowski (Cheshire, Conn.) and Austin Sattler (Guilford, Conn.) made up the rest of the scoring five for the Seahawks, crossing the finish line at 29:59.4, 30:17.2 and 30:25.4. Fresman Andrew Sardelli (Hope Valley, R.I.) and junior captain Slater Roosa (Woodbury, Conn.) ran at No. 6 and No. 7, finishing at 30:26.6 and 30:52.9.
"We had four freshmen in our lineup again today, and it was good for them to be exposed to this caliber of competition," McGuinness said. "We'll be looking for Austin, Dave, John and Andrew to run in contributing roles for the next few years. They now have a better sense of what it takes to compete at the regional level. We can build from here."
Colby College placed two runners in the top 10 and all five scorers in the top 25 to win the regional championship with a team score of 63. Amherst finished second with 69 points and MIT was third with 70. Colin Cotton of Williams College won the individual title with a time of 25:10.0.
Salve Regina posted a team score of 1193 to finish ahead of 21 scoring teams. The team's placement was its second highest regional finish since the men's cross country program was reconstituted in 2005. The team's highest finish – 31st of 50 – was in 2013.
The regional championship met concludes the 2014 cross country campaign, finishing a season that saw the Seahawks break a school record for combined team time at five miles. All of the Salve Regina scorers are eligible to return next year.
"We have some work to do to regain our footing in the conference and the region, but we have a lot of the right pieces in place," McGuinness said. "I'm confident that the guys are only going to get better."
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Courtesy of Rob McGuinness