Dennis sets new personal best as Panthers finish tops among LEC competitors
WESTFIELD, Mass. – The Plymouth State University women's cross country team finished in a tie for seventh place among 33 teams at the James Earley Invitational at Stanley Park, hosted by Westfield State University on Saturday.
Junior Haley Dennis (Coventry, R.I.) set a new lifetime personal best to finish the 5K race in 30th place among 257 runners. Her time of 19:43.21 was the third fastest in program history. Dennis has been the team's top finisher in four straight races and was the second fastest runner among the four Little East Conference schools represented, trailing only Rhode Island College freshman Shayna Cousineau by less than 13 seconds.
"Haley is a budding star," praised head coach John Ostler. "Her race today was one of the best regular season performances in school history and the other women on the team feed off her."
Senior Rileigh Goulette (Saint Albans, Vt.), junior Lora Giguere (Tolland, Conn.) and freshman Julia Labbe (Turner, Maine) all posted times that ranked within the top ten historically for Plymouth State. Goulette finished in 20:02.56 (44th place), with Giguere taking 47th place in 20:03.42. Labbe wasn't far behind, posting a time of 20:22.05 for 62nd overall. Freshman Jessica Ewing (Amherst, N.H.) was the final point-scorer for the Panthers with a time of 20:42.61.
The Panthers were the top team finishers among an LEC contingent that included Eastern Connecticut State University, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and RIC, who all finished in the top 18. The seventh place overall finish was a marked improvement from the 2016 season, when PSU placed 17th. It was the first time in program history that the Panthers finished ahead of ECSU.
"The women ran the best team race in the five-year history of the program today," Ostler continued. "We've been having great workouts since August and it was nice to get some fast race results to confirm the progress I know we're making in practice."
Trinity College took the team title with 56 points, with the University of New England (136 points), Worcester State University (174 points), Westfield State (181 points) and Smith College (194 points) rounding out the top five. Gordon College took sixth place with 251 points, just ahead of PSU and Williams College, who tied for seventh with 257 points. Norwich University (332 points) and NCAA Division II St. Anselm College (333 points) closed out the top ten.
PSU also performed well in the "blue" junior varsity race. The Panthers finished fourth overall, with freshman Leanne Burgess (Bradford, Vt.) running the fifth fastest time of the day for the Panthers. Burgess took third in the field of 141 runners in a time of 20:32.45.
The Panthers have one final tune up before the LEC Championships at the end of the month. Plymouth State will compete in the Emmanuel Invitational at Franklin Park in Boston, Mass. on Friday (Oct. 13). The women's race is set to begin at 4:45 p.m.
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