Skyhawks aim to extend NE-10 record of nine championships
Santo placed 10th in last years' NE-10 Championship
EASTON, Mass. (October 20, 2016) – The Stonehill College men's cross country team, ranked second in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association (USTFCCCA) East Regional poll seeks its ninth Northeast-10 Conference Championship this Saturday, October 22 as it hosts the eight-kilometer race. The women's event will start at noon, while the men kick off before at 11 a.m.
Stonehill was picked to finish second in a poll of the league's 15 head coaches with a total of 180 points. The Skyhawks, who have won the conference championship most recently in 2012 have also recorded six runner-up marks, received one first-place vote. American International College (193 points) was selected to finish first, as Bentley University (166 points), Southern New Hampshire University (160 points), and Adelphi University (138 points).
Bentley University leads the Conference with 13 titles, as the Skyhawks follow with eight and Springfield College and UMass Lowell have collected six apiece. From 2002-13, Stonehill and UMass Lowell switched off capturing the title, except in 2007 when both teams were co-champions.
This year, the Skyhawks have posted four top-14 results out of the five meets that they participated in, including a title at the Skyhawk Preview Meet for their opening weekend. Stonehill also earned a third-place mark at the UMass Dartmouth Invitational and two 11th-place finishes at the Paul Short Invitational and the New England Championship.
Taxter has won NE-10 Rookie of the Week once this season
Stonehill will enter Saturday's championship event following the lead the teams' four seniors including Tyler Henseler (Coventry, R.I./Bishop Hendricken), Daniel Nolan (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford), Joe Santo (Newburyport, Mass./Newburyport), and Antonio Xelhua (Arlington, Mass./Arlington). Santo has tallied the best mark for the Skyhawks out of the 2016 squad, finishing 10th in last season's championship with a time of 25:44.7. Xelhua broke the top-25 last year with a time of 26:06.8, good for 22nd place. Henseler has posted a time of 26:18.9 at last years' championship, good for 30th, as Nolan crossed the line 58th in the 2014 championship with a time of 30:04.9.
Sam Bradford (Bedford, Mass./Bedford), Jimmy Murphy (Mansfield, Mass./Mansfield), Alex Southiere (Cumberland, R.I./Cumberland), and Kenny Vinacco (Scituate, R.I./Scituate) make up the group of juniors for Saturday's race. Murphy is the only one of the squad that has run in the Conference Championship placing 48th with a time of 26:57.5. Bradford posted an 11th-place finish this season at the Skyhawk Preview Meet with a time of 26:33.3, later tallying a career-best time of 25:55 at the Paul Short Invitational. Vinacco followed suit as he finished 14th at the Skyhawk Invitational with a time of 26:40.3, and recording a career-best time at the Paul Short Invitational finishing 90th with a time of 25:47. Southiere posted a career-best time at the most recent meet for the Skyhawks at the New England Championship finishing 21st with a time of 26:23.4 in the sub-varsity division.
The sophomores make up another quad group which include Alexander Demeule (Merrimac, Mass./Pentucket Regional), Riley Dowd (Peabody, Mass./Peabody Veterans Memorial), Christopher Drace (Franklin, N.J./Pope John XXIII), and Lucas Taxter (Readville, Mass./Xaverian Brothers). Taxter was named the NE-10 Rookie of the Week October 3 as he posted a career-best time of 25:42 at the Paul Short Invitational, later being broken by a time of 25:22.3 at the New England Championship. Demeule earned his best time at the Paul Short Invitational this year with a time of 25:57, as he also placed 34th at the 2015 Conference Championship with a time of 26:22.9. Dowd and Drace crossed the finish 21st (26:05.5) and 75th (27:41.0), respectively, at the 2015 Northeast-10 Championship.
With the strong upperclassmen presence, there is a group of two freshman that have found their way to the starting line including Michael Durkin (Hingham, Mass./Hingham) and Chris Gendron (Lowell, Mass./Lowell).
Portions of Saturday's championship races will be streamed live on Facebook for all fans to tune in and watch the Skyhawks remotely. Family and friends are encouraged to "like" the Stonehill Skyhawks page.
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