ENTERPRISE: Stonehill cross country teams back in NCAAs

By: Jim Fenton

The Skyhawks men's and women's squads will be competing in the Division 2 Championships in Indiana on Saturday.

The Stonehill College men's cross country team pulled off a rare feat this season.

The Skyhawks have finished first in all six of their meets on the way to a 15th straight trip to the NCAA Division 2 Championships in Evansville, Ind., Saturday.

"It's like a dream season for them,″ said coach Karen Boen of the school's first cross country program to sweep every meet. "We've had similar teams with really solid guys. The difference is it's all coming together for them at the right time.″

The Stonehill women's team will also be making the trip to Indiana after qualifying for the 18th year in a row.

The men's team won the program's first New England championship in a meet that included all divisions. The Skyhawks also won the Northeast-10 Conference and East Region titles for the first time since 2013.

"I wasn't quite sure what this team could do,″ said Boen, the East Region men's coach of the year and the men's and women's coach of the year in the NE10. "You always know how talented the kids are, but there are so many other variables that come into play.

"On paper, if everything came together, we thought we could be pretty good. I am lying to you if I said I thought we could be this good.″

Stonehill won its first meet on Labor Day weekend in New Hampshire and kept piling up the victories.

"It is pretty hard to do,″ said Boen, "and the interesting thing is we have not had the same No. 1 guy two meets in a row.

"The team dynamic is very good. They were all ready at the right time. There's no complaints. They have been getting it done.″

Earning All-East Region honors were junior Lucas Taxter (third), junior Alex Demeule (fourth), senior Jimmy Murphy (ninth), junior Riley Dowd (10th) and senior Kenny Vinacco (13th). They will ne joined at the nationls by juniors Chris Drace and Larry Carney.

"It is a team that has a lot of discipline,″ said Boen, whose team finished 24th last season. "They believe in what we tell them. I've never had a group trust me as much as this group has.″

The Stonehill women lost four of their top runners, including All-America Nicole Borofski of Plymouth, to graduation.

But the Skyhawks won the NE10 title and just missed winning the East Region meet, losing to Assumption by one point.

"I thought if we made nationals this year it would be great,″ said Boen, whose team was 22nd a year ago. "We took a hit and everybody was saying this might be the first year the women don't get to the nationals. They proved them wrong.″

Stonehill had four runners earn all-region honors, including senior Emily Knox, who finished in first place, junior Makenzie Cyr (fourth), freshman Sam Curtin of Plymouth (fifth) and sophomore Alyssa Freeman (10th).

Knox was named the East Region athlete of the year for her performance.

The other three runners headed to the NCAAs are senior Abby Hersom, sophomore Anna Lastra and freshman Sophia Anderle.

"We'll get some experience at the nationals,″ said Boen. "That's my goal for the younger kids.″

Borfoski is part of the Stonehill coaching staff after placing 19th in the nation last year in Florida.

Jim Fenton's Colleges appears Wednesday and Friday in The Enterprise. He may be reached at jfenton@enterprisenews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JFenton_ent.