Panthers improve by 17 places over last season
WATERFORD, Conn. – The Plymouth State University men's cross country team wrapped up the season Saturday with a solid effort, placing 29th out of 58 teams at the NCAA Division III New England Regional Championships, hosted by Connecticut College at Harkness Memorial State Park.
The team finish for the Panthers marks a 17-place improvement over the same race last year, when they were 46th out of 54 teams. The 2015 campaign was just the third season since men's cross country was reinstated at Plymouth State, and the second under head coach John Ostler.
"The men had a solid race today," said Ostler. "It is not easy for a young group like we have to race well in a huge championship like this. I was very proud that they embraced the challenge and ran tough in highly competitive race. Our young team gained some valuable experience ; we ran a final race that we should be proud of but they've already been talking about how they can get better next year."
As has been the case all season, the Panthers were led by freshman Sam Brunnette (Newport, Vt.), who placed 53rd out of 380 runners. Brunnette finished the 8K course in 25 minutes, 53 seconds, some 36 seconds faster the his previous personal best. He was the fourth freshman finisher in the race and the third-best among Little East Conference runners.
"It's rare for a freshman to run better in his first regional championship than Sam did today," said Ostler. "He started back in as high as 120th place in the first mile. Each K he must have pasted as many as 10-15 runners, like clockwork. Breaking 26:00 is an elite threshold, and by my estimation he was about 20 seconds away from the last individual qualification spot for NCAA Nationals."
PSU's next three finishers were freshmen, with Warren Bartlett (Loudon, N.H.) coming across in 119th place in a time of 26:55; Brendan Polichronopoulos (Penacook, N.H.) placing 203rd in 28:08; and Cameron Pavao (Methuen, Mass.) next across the line in 234th in 28:37. Junior Shawn Miller (Atkinson, N.H.) was PSU's fifth runner in 244th in 28:48, and senior David Martino (Laconia N.H.) and junior Nat Smyth (Plymouth, N.H.) came in 245th and 259th, respectively.
"Warren and Brendan were solid capping off impressive rookie seasons," said Ostler. "Our 4-7 guys all finished in a tight pack, each took turns pushing and leading each other. Shawn Miller ran a season's best (28:48) and Nat Smyth had a career PR (28:58)."
"David Martino ran his last college cross country race today," said Ostler. "For the first three years of our program David has been a consistent top scorer. He's had a very fine career and his reliability will be hard to replace."
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