Brunnette paces men's race, Dennis wins for women
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University men's and women's cross country teams both took home first place at the PSU Short Course Opener, the programs' first home event in 38 years.
Junior Haley Dennis (Coventry, R.I.) won on the women's side, finishing the 4,000-meter run in 16:23.00. It was the first collegiate victory for Dennis, who led teammate Julia Labbe (Turner, Maine) by five seconds. Panthers occupied the top seven spots, with senior Rileigh Goulette (Saint Albans, Vt.), junior Lora Giguere (Tolland, Conn.), junior Ashley Bergeron (Berlin, N.H.), sophomore Eve Bagley (Holliston, Mass.) and freshman Leanne Burgess (Bradford, Vt.) placing third through seventh. Burgess finished in 17:32.00, leaving a tight spread of just 1:09 between the top PSU finishers.
On the men's side, Panthers took the top five slots led by defending LEC Men's Cross Country Runner of the Year, Sam Brunnette (Newport, Vt.). The junior finished the 6,000-meter run in 19:34.00, six seconds ahead of classmate Warren Bartlett (Loudon, N.H.). Freshman Jared Wolf (Tyngsborough, Mass.), classmate Marcus Cryan (Topsfield, Mass.) and sophomore Noah Byington (Hanscom AFB, Mass.) rounded out the top five. On the men's side, the spread from one through five was 1:05, which did not go unnoticed by head coach John Ostler.
"Tight packs are one of the few but important stats we keep track of," said the fourth-year head coach. "Success today was owed to patient race plans, grouping up early and feeding off our teammates and making assertive moves to control the race."
The PSU men earned 15 points to place ahead of New Hampshire Technical Institute (46 points) and Lyndon State College (no score). The women also won 15 points to earn the team victory over Lyndon State (53 points) and NHTI (80 points).
The event marked the first home race for the Panther programs since 1979, a year before the program was dropped as a varsity sport. The teams were reinstated in 2013.
"It was a thrill to be at home for the first time in decades," added Ostler. "Hosting this meet is realizing a big goal of mine since I got here. We had very definitive goals today; control the race from the gun, run a strong second half and build confidence to take to our next couple of tougher races. Mission accomplished on all three goals."
Ostler was especially happy with the team effort. "Today was a blend of upperclassmen and women taking charge with some great, courageous debuts from our freshmen," he added.
Both programs compete next Saturday (Sept. 16) at the Bowdoin Invitational in Brunswick, Maine. The men start at 11:00 a.m., with the women's race set for 12:00 p.m.
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