By Gabe Sturges
With a Japanese pagoda standing sentry over the lush grass and orange-hued trees of Stanley Park, the bucolic expanse and glorious weather gave no hint of the turmoil silently waged along its paths. Returning to compete after an exceptional weekend that saw the men’s cross country team take first and the women take second at the Mount St. Mary’s Invitational, both contingents strove to continue their epic success. Bathed in autumn light on a cool Saturday morning, the teams traveled to Westfield College for the James Early Invitational to test themselves, physically and mentally, against 26 other squads.
Missing two key competitors, captain Michelle Richter ‘11 and freshman Callie Aldrich, the women’s team took heed of the challenge, placing four freshmen—Cara Zimmerman, Elizabeth Nailing, Keilah Creedon, and Jackie Massare—and one sophomore, Tory Cameron, within the top five. With a spread of only one minute between the numbers one and five runners, the Dutchwomen have already had a phenomenal season, placing 11th on the day among 27 complete teams. Other Union runners testing their mettle were seniors Carolyn Canetti, Angela McLelland, Suzanne Estok and Courtney Foley, junior Kaileigh Moore, and sophomores Sam Steenburn and Hannah Lubart.
On the men’s side, despite running an absolutely blazing first mile, Union’s runners settled into their respective paces and displayed very effective pack running from their second through fifth runners.
Although a sore hamstring hampered powerhouse and perennial top-five-man Brian Solinsky, the Dutchmen were undaunted, with sophomore Ethan Loew taking Solinsky’s spot, dropping a P.R. in the process.
Growing stronger with each week, the top five, consisting of sophomores Gabe Sturges and Ethan Loew, freshman Peter Donnelly, and senior captain Ben Lawrence, finished in eighth position among the field, only six points shy of sixth place. The remaining Union cadre, junior Ian Schwartz, Solinsky, and freshmen Alex Paolicelli, Kenny Sayles and Carlo Civiti all finished well on the day.
This Saturday, both teams travel to western New York for the Liberty League Championships hosted by Hobart.