Brunnette wins individual tile as Panthers aggressiveness pays off
WESTFIELD, Mass. – The Plymouth State University men's cross country team finished in sixth place among 37 teams at the James Earley Invitational at Stanley Park, hosted by Westfield State University on Saturday.
Junior Sam Brunnette (Newport, Vt.) continued his strong season with a first place overall finish.
"Sam's racing confidence was on full display today," noted head coach John Ostler. "He looked fully in control from gun to tape. You could see in his face that he was never straining and he had a plan to pull away in the last mile."
Brunnette opened aggressively and settled in behind Gordon College senior Damon Kilgore and Trinity College sophomore Weyessa McAlister for the majority of the 8K race, then turned it on in the last stage to earn the win.
Junior Warren Bartlett (Loudon, N.H.) added a typical strong race earning a 14th place finish in 26:45.65, with freshman Marcus Cryan (Topsfield, Mass.) posting a time of 28:01.51 for 45th place. Sophomore Noah Byington (Hanscomb AFB, Mass.) and junior Chaim Tendler (Manchester, N.H.) rounded out the point scorers for the Panthers, finishing in 28:19.66 (54th place) and 28:39.45 (70th place) respectively.
In the first race of the year featuring Little East Conference competition the Panthers finished first, ahead of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Eastern Connecticut State University and Rhode Island College.
Ostler was happy with the improvement from the team. "The guys finished 14th at this race in 2016, so a sixth place finish is a fine boost for us. Today was a good learning experience for our team, as almost everyone opened up the first mile too fast. I'm proud of my guys for taking a confident risk and fighting through fatigue for a solid finish."
Trinity College took the team title with 74 points, with Williams College (77 points), Norwich University (112 points), Amherst College (121 points) and Westfield State (150 points) rounding out the top five. PSU was sixth with 182 points, ahead of Colby-Sawyer College (217 points), UMass Dartmouth (269 points), the University of New England (344 points) and Suffolk County Community College (346 points), who formed the top ten.
"We have one more regular season race to refine our strategy," added Ostler. "We'll get everything clicking for the LEC Championships three weeks from now."
The Panthers will compete at the Emmanuel Invitational at Franklin Park in Boston, Mass. on Friday (Oct. 13), with start time scheduled for 4:00 p.m., before heading to Keene State College for the LEC Championships on Saturday, Oct. 28.
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