Cross Country at Plymouth State University
|The following text is from PANTHER PRIDE A History of Intercollegiate Athletics at Plymouth State College, by Michael I. Moffett (©1990)|
The history of Cross Country at Plymouth State College is short but sweet, (beginning in 1966 and) basically encompassing the decade of the 1970s.
Dr. Paul Hartman, Doug Wiseman, Jack Rhodes, and Rick Hutchins were the head coaches who guided the program, which featured participation in a number of dual and combined meets each fall.
During the early ‘70s, Wiseman’s harriers were quite impressive, particularly in the annual New England State College Athletic Conference, which awarded Wiseman “Coach-of-the-Year” honors in 1972.
Jack Rhodes took over as head coach in 1974, and guided several outstanding PSC teams as they rolled over opponents, at first on a course running through the hills behind the Holderness School, and later on an even tougher course running through PSC’s Langdon Park.
Until it was discontinued, the NESCAC meet was an annual highlight for PSC. Later, schedule highlights would include the SMU Invitational, annually hosted by Southeastern Massachusetts University, and the Cod Fish Bowl Races, which were held in Boston each year, and the annual New England and Eastern Regionals, which allowed runners to qualify for the NCAA Division III National Cross Country meet.
A special event for the PSC cross country program was Plymouth State College’s annual Foley Invitational, named in honor of the longtime coach at the Home of the Panthers. PSU often turned in some of its best performances at the Foley Invitational, which was held during Homecoming Weekend, and often featuring as many as ten teams.
Perhaps the finest Panther cross country runner ever was Bob Rindfleisch of Seldon Park, N.Y. Rindfleisch set school records on both the Holderness and Langdon Park courses before graduating in 1976.
The PSC cross country team would feature several other running standouts, including Jim Clark (two-time winner of the PSC Invitational).
During the late 1970s, Dave Severance established himself as PSC’s finest distance runner ever. Although Severance competed on the cross country team for only two seasons, his years at Plymouth State were marked by many hundreds of miles of roadwork, and in 1978 he won the Lowell Marathon in his first marathon distance race ever.
In 1979, Severance finished second in the Skylon Marathon held in Buffalo, New York, with a time of 2:19.21. His performance on the 26 mile 385 yard course qualified him for the 1980 Olympic Team trials. Severance would be recognized for his running achievements in 1988 when he became the first cross-country/track and field performer to be inducted into the Plymouth State College Hall of Fame.
In 1980 the cross country program was dropped as a varsity program by Plymouth State College, for a variety of reasons. The sport was missed by running enthusiasts, but fond memories would forever remain with the many student-athletes like Bob Rindfleisch, Jim Clark, and Dave Severance who so ably represented PSC on New England cross country courses during the 1970s.