By Carley Crain
The men’s and women’s cross-country teams enter championship season this weekend, as NEWMACs are being hosted by Wheaton at Highland Park, Mass. MIT is eyeing another clean sweep on both sides, as the Engineers are the reigning champions for both the men and women.
MIT has sat at the top of the conference for as long as Springfield College senior John DeRosa can remember, but he is ready to challenge the top contenders on Sunday morning. Last season, both MIT and WPI qualified as teams for the Division III National Championships. Springfield wants to be right in the mix with both squads and knows that pack-running will be the best way to accomplish that.
“Since my freshman year, we have been narrowing the gap little by little with big teams in the conference,” DeRosa said. “A turnaround does not happen overnight, but our team has been working hard in all areas, whether that be in workouts, long runs, the weight room, or recovery. Beating big-name teams is not off the table.”
On the men’s side for Springfield, the duo of junior Chris Vayda and DeRosa have been leading the pack this season. Seniors Aidan Harmer and Adam Mula round out the top four runners for the Pride. The men have had two top-three finishes this season at larger meets, which has fueled their confidence for NEWMACs.
“The work is there, the fitness is present and as Coach Steinman says, ‘The hay is in the barn.’ If we believe in ourselves and race to our full potential, we will have a great showing,” DeRosa explained.
For the women, this year’s field is set to provide some tough competition. Last year, three NEWMAC institutions qualified as a team for the DIII National Championships: MIT, Smith and Wellesley. This year, the Springfield women have had three top-5 finishes, most recently finishing second at the Connecticut College Invitational.
With about 113 student-athletes competing in the women’s race, Springfield had five runners place in the top 30 – showing how strong their pack-running is this season.
The trio of upperclassmen – seniors Brenna Lachapelle and Elizabeth Rose, as well as junior Kate Bonanno – have been leading the charge this cross-country season for the Pride. With the combination of their experience, strategy and competitiveness, they are ready to fight with the other top athletes in the conference.
Sophomore Shae Gallagher and first-year Megan Sullivan have also been consistently rounding out the top five for Springfield and will be two athletes to watch out for during the 2022 championship season.
Springfield will toe the start line this Sunday for the 2022 NEWMAC Championships, with the men racing at 12 and the women at 11. To watch the meet live, head to the NEWMAC Conference website: https://newmacsports.com/championships/wxc/index
Photo Courtesy Springfield College