By Carley Crain
The Springfield men’s and women’s cross country teams will get back on the trails this fall after a two-year hiatus. The men are currently ranked third in the NEWMAC behind nationally-ranked powerhouses MIT and WPI. The women are seeded at No. 8, right behind Wheaton, who has always been a close competitor for the Pride.
This will be the first cross country season for Springfield since 2019, and they are more than ready for it.
With a solid two-week pre-season, both the men and women have worked hard on becoming one unit. Despite running being fairly individualized, cross country is very team-orientated, which is a fundamental part of the sport.
“This preseason was amazing. It was definitely something the team missed last year as it helped a lot of the bonding with the new freshman and the team in general,” explained junior Josh Ladd. “It was also a great experience to train as a large team altogether for the first time in a while. It definitely has helped form a great team dynamic of positivity and high energy.”
Depth and development are two of the main focuses for the squad this season. Not only do they want a solid scoring top five, but developing a strong group of eight is what will help them be in their best shape once the postseason rolls around.
“Our main strength this year is probably going to be how much we want others on the team to succeed,” said Ladd. “Everyone is pushing each other to be better and we are all competing for spots, but the big thing this year is we aren’t trying to compete against each other and are rather just trying our best to get the best out of our training partners.”
The Pride opened their season at Keene State, where the men won and the women placed second. The trio of junior John Derosa, senior Russell Allen, and sophomore Christopher Vayda will call eyes all season.
Derosa was already honored as NEWMAC runner of the week as well as being named to Maroon Club. Opening his season with a 15:43 5k, it is just the beginning for Derosa.
Seniors Liam Murphy and JT McMillen bring both experience and leadership to the men’s squad this season that will be beneficial once the post-season arrives.
On the women’s side, training partners Heather Fontaine and Kate Bonanno have led the Pride for the past year, and are aiming to be in the top 25 at the conference championship meet. Senior Marissa Paolangeli and junior Brenna LaChapelle have also been in the mix, contributing both experience and speed on the trails.
Other Springfield women who are working towards a top-five scoring spot include sophomore Sophie Curcio and first-year Shae Gallagher, who both had solid finishes at Keene State, each finishing the 2-mile course in 12:06 and 12:29 respectively.
MIT and Mount Holyoke are two of the most dominant women’s teams in the NEWMAC conference and will be hard to beat. It will be important for Springfield to develop a strong, close-knit pack that can feed off of each other.
The Pride competes next at the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational on Saturday the 18th, featuring both Division II and III colleges, which will be a great opportunity for these competitors to run some fast times.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics