Brunette, Bartlett top all rookies with top six finishes for Panthers
KEENE, N.H. – The Plymouth State University men's cross country team turned in an outstanding performance Saturday afternoon, finishing third among seven teams at the Little East Conference Championships at Keene State College.
The Panthers had a team score of 81, behind champion Keene State (21) and runner-up University of Southern Maine (64) and ahead of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (96), Eastern Connecticut State University (98), the University of Massachusetts Boston (202) and Rhode Island College.
The third-place finish is the best for PSU in the three years of competing in the Little East, and a jump up of two spots from last year. The Panthers also bested UMass Dartmouth and Eastern Connecticut for the first time in a race. PSU had its best 1-5 spread of the season and best average time.
"Our guys had a phenomenal day," said PSU head coach John Ostler. "Placing third was a pretty big upset. The guys had one goal today: they wanted to improve on their finish from last year. They knew that meant beating a team we've never beaten before. They weren't scared. They were in the race from the gun and put the pressure on Eastern and Dartmouth to catch up."
Freshmen Sam Brunnette (Newport, Vt.) and Warren Bartlett (Loudon, N.H.) had strong runs to lead the Panthers and finished fifth and sixth, respectively, among the 71 runners in the race. Brunnette covered the five-mile course in 26 minutes, 39 seconds, with Bartlett close behind in 26:50. Keene State's Phillip Parent won the race in 26:14. The PSU pair was the top finishers in the race among freshmen.
"Sam and Warren both ran different races," said Ostler. "Sam went out aggressively with the leaders and hung on. Warren laid back, as far back as 15h early but moved up every mile. Warren told me he wanted his fastest mile of the race to be his last mile, he did that today."
PSU's next three runners were freshmen Cameron Pavao (Methuen, Mass.) and Brendan Polichronopoulos (Penacook, N.H.) and senior David Martino (Laconia, N.H.). Pavao (28:02) and Polichronopoulos (28:03) were 21st and 22nd, and Martino (28:45) was 33rd.
"Poli and Cam never left each other's side the entire race," said Ostler. "It was great teamwork. David didn't have his best day but he ran a gritty race, exactly what you need from a senior. Sophomore Sam Webber (Derry, N.H.) also had a career PR today when we needed it most."
The Panthers will compete again next Saturday at the ECAC Division III Championships, hosted by Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. PSU finished 32nd of 43 teams in last year's ECAC Championships.
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