WESTON, Mass. – The Regis College men's and women's cross country teams are finalizing their preparations for the 2019 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Cross Country Championships, to be held on the campus of Saint Joseph's College in Standish, Maine, Saturday afternoon, Nov. 2.
In a close competition last year, the Pride women finished in fifth place, but were just seven points behind the second place squad. Meanwhile, the Regis men also ended up in fifth place in the team standings at the 2018 GNAC Championships, also held on the SJC Cross Country Trail.
Regis will be one of four GNAC squads with some recent familiarity of the course, as the Pride, along with host Saint Joseph's, Emmanuel, and Simmons, competed in the Runnin' Monks Invitational Oct. 12. For the first time in conference history, the women's course will be six kilometers, the same distance the women ran three weeks ago, while the men's course will be eight kilometers.
All five runners who scored for the women last year are expected to compete this weekend, including seniors Maggie Mann (Buzzards Bay, Mass.) and Maddie Boucias (Buckland, Mass.). Mann, a two-time First Team All-GNAC performer, set the new Regis record for fastest five-kilometer time, plus she won the Endicott Invitational Sept. 7. Boucias, a Second Team All-GNAC honoree in consecutive years, finished third at the Endicott Invitational and posted the team's fastest time at the Runnin' Monks Invitational.
Ashleigh Kelley (Stoneham, Mass.) finished between Mann and Boucias in second place at the Endicott Invitational, earned Second Team All-GNAC honors as a freshman last year, and was the team's top finisher at the season-opening Wellesley Invitational Aug. 30. Erin Kelley (Stoneham, Mass.) finished 11th at the Endicott Invitational and posted her best five-kilometer time of 20:59.7 at the Keene State Invitational Oct. 5.
Desiree Jones (Oceanside, Calif.) was Regis' fifth runner during the 2018 GNAC Championships, and she earned her collegiate-best five-kilometer time of 21:24.7 at the Keene State Invitational. Lizzy Melvin (Southington, Conn.) also produced her best five-kilometer time as a collegiate runner at Keene State with a mark of 21:44.2.
On the men's side, four members of the squad who competed at the conference championships last season return this season, led by JJ Pedersen (Milford, Conn.), the Pride's top finisher in five events and the new holder of the school record for fastest eight-kilometer time. Nicholas Sahagian (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) posted two top-25 finishes this season and finished in 35th place at the 2018 GNAC Championships.
Gustavo Novelle-Ruddy (Boston, Mass.) finished 15th at the Wellesley Invitational and earned his fastest eight-kilometer time of 30:05.1 at Keene State. Fellow sophomore Christian Hendricks (Edgewater, Md.) has competed in the last four events for the Pride, posting his personal-best eight-kilometer time of 29:34.2 at Keene State and crossing the finish line first among Regis runners two weeks ago at the Suffolk Invitational.
Among the newcomers, AJ Corso (Broad Brook, Conn.) has been consistently one of the Pride's top finishers throughout the season. Michael Carroll (Lynn, Mass.) has run in every event for Regis so far, while Noah Ryan (Stockton, Calif.) missed just one race. Both Ben O'Neal (New Britain, Conn.) and Jacob O'Neal (New Britain, Conn.) competed at the Runnin' Monks Invitational.
In the pre-championship coaches' poll, the Regis women finished in fifth place with 79 points, only three points behind host Saint Joseph's College. Suffolk received five first place votes to top the poll with 114 points, followed by Colby-Sawyer with four first place votes and 105 points and defending GNAC champion Emmanuel with two first place votes and 92 points.
For the men, the Pride landed in sixth place with 47 points, just three points ahead of Johnson & Wales. Defending GNAC champion Colby-Sawyer led the poll with 92 points, including six first place votes, followed by Norwich (two first place votes) with 88 points and Suffolk (one first place vote) with 84 points.
On Saturday, Nov. 2, the women's six-kilometer race is scheduled to start at 1 p.m., with the men's eight-kilometer event set to begin at 2 p.m.