Panthers open season at UNE Invitational
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The newest varsity sports at Plymouth State University make their debuts this Saturday when the Panther men's and women's cross country team compete at the University of New England Invitational at Rotary Park in Biddeford, Maine.
This year's squad is the first women's cross country team at Plymouth State, while the men's team previously competed at the varsity level in the 1970s before the program was discontinued in 1980. PSU officials announced last fall the additions of the two programs.
The Panthers are led by head coach Dave Severance, a 1981 Plymouth State graduate and a member of the PSU Athletic Hall of Fame. Severance was the boys and girls cross country coach at Moultonborough Academy (N.H.) the past decade along with a running career that includes a New England collegiate title and All-America honors for Plymouth State in the 10,000 meters and completing more than 20 marathons.
"We are excited about competing in our first race this Saturday," said Severance. "This is a historical milestone; it's the first men's team at Plymouth State in 34 years, and the first women's team ever. Plymouth State will have five scoring runners in both races. I think we'll have some strong showings for both the men and the women; how far up they finish remains to be seen."
Coach Severance has assembled a roster of 19 runners, 11 on the men's side and eight on the women's. All runners will compete in each race, with the top five finishers representing PSU in the team scoring. The men's races are generally five miles or eight kilometers (8K), while the women's races are 5K (approx. 3.1 miles). Approximately 17 teams are expected at this week's race.
The Panther men should be led by junior captain Evan Gaudette (pictured) (Nashua, N.H./North), according to Severance, who could compete with the top runners. Gaudette is being pushed by freshmen Sam Webber (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton) and Shawn Miller (Atkinson, N.H./Timberlane), while sophomore Tim Lindberg (Jericho, Vt.) and freshman Rocco Repetto (Woodstock, N.H./Lin-Wood) have also been running well in workouts.
Junior Caroline Forgiel (Bradford, N.H./Kearsarge) should be one the top runners for the women's squad. Coach Severance says senior captain Kara Comiskey (pictured) (Dover, Mass./Dover-Sherborn), junior Meagan Celley (Peabody, Mass.), freshman Jen Carten (Etters, Pa./Red Land) and sophomore Cassidy Spencer (St. Francis, Maine/Fort Kent) are all pushing each other and should contribute to the team scoring.
"I've been pleased with how they've performed in training," said Severance. "They've handled the hills in Plymouth quite well, including our Mount Prospect trail run. Everyone has been healthy and injury free."
The Panthers are members of the Little East Conference in cross country, and will run five regular season races in September and October. The Little East Championships, the ECAC Championships and the NCAA New England Regionals are the first three weekends in November.
"As a member of the last cross country team to run at Plymouth State more than 30 years ago," said Severance, "I am excited to see cross country return as a sport at my alma mater. It is especially rewarding to return as a coach for the rebirth of the running program."
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