Cross country sets the pace for the rest of their season

by Matt Couture / Beacon Staff • September 30, 2015

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The men’s cross country team placed second in each of its first two meets, while the women’s squad placed first in both.
The men’s cross country team placed second in each of its first two meets, while the women’s squad placed first in both.

As a more distinct chill signals the start of fall in Boston, the cross country season is just heating up for Emerson’s men’s and women’s teams. Through two meets, both have enjoyed strong starts. 

The women’s team, which won each of its first two races, has benefited from having a group of runners reach the finish line in succession. In the first race, the Massachusetts Maritime Lt. Travis J. Fuller Invitational, the top five Emerson runners placed second, third, fourth, fifth, and eighth, respectively. The squad also secured a victory at the Rivier University Invitational meet, with four members placing in the top six.

Women’s captain and junior visual and media arts major Savannah Hubbard said the similar finish from multiple runners is an attribute the team was lacking last season. According to Hubbard, the team has also improved thanks to the proximity of Beacon Hill for training sessions. 

“I think hills are always everyone’s biggest problem, but we’ve practiced them so much,” Hubbard said. “We really showed our power with that at last week’s meet.”

The men’s team has also found early success, finishing in second place at each of its first two meets. Captain Matt Lavallee, a junior visual and media arts major, said that while winning is a bonus, the opening competitions are more about establishing a baseline for the season. 

“The first two races give us a good gauge of where we’re at time-wise,” Lavallee said. “What we work for is these last races coming down the stretch in late October and early November.”

Lavallee’s fellow captain, junior visual and media arts major Michael O’Connor, said the team has a young roster, carrying only one senior. He praised sophomores for their work over the summer, and said they will be a key component in the remaining meets.

“They’ve just improved drastically,” O’Connor said. “They’re, if not better than me, like right with me, so we’ll have a tight pack in the front.”

O’Connor said Emerson cross country racers don’t just train during their short season, which typically spans from September to early November. Summer training, featuring workouts recommended by head coach John Furey, provides the conditioning requisite for a healthy season. 

“As soon as school starts, the meets start, and if you haven’t done the summer training, it takes you half the season to even get into decent shape,” Furey said. 

Hubbard said that competition will grow more difficult as more opponents are added in upcoming races. The primary aim for Emerson runners will be to upgrade their personal best finishing times, according to Hubbard. 

On the men’s side, O’Connor said he’s focused on getting four runners to finish with times under 30 minutes by the end of the year. O’Connor finished with a time of 29:38 at the Fuller Invitational, according to the athletic department’s website. 

Furey said the team will continue to increase the intensity of practice sessions, which he said improves runners’ times on the course. Furey also said he hopes the practices promote endurance, and will keep the student-athletes healthy over the next few months.  

“The big thing is to just try to get them individually better,” Furey said. “[The practices] will give them confidence, toughness, and this will translate to performance.”