(New York, NY) - The Sacred Heart University Men's and Women's Cross Country teams began their seasons at Van Courtlandt Park at the Fordham Invitational Saturday afternoon, with the women placing 5th out of 17 teams, and first amongst the five NEC schools that competed. The men finished 14th of 16 teams competing.
The Pioneer women ran past both Quinnipiac and Monmouth, the two teams that were picked to finish ahead of SHU in the NEC preseason coaches' poll, and the two teams that beat SHU in last year's NEC Championships. It's the first time that an NEC school has defeated Quinnipiac since 2005, the year SHU and QU shared the NEC title. Amongst others, the women also beat host Fordham, Delaware, Rider, Seton Hall, and NEC foes St. Francis (NY) and Fairleigh Dickinson.
Brittany Heninger, a transfer graduate student from UConn, placed 8th out of 217 finishers with a time of 18:25 and was the first NEC athlete to cross the line in her debut with SHU. She recorded a 20 second personal best, beating her old best of 18:45 which she recorded for UConn last year. Her time is the second fastest Van Cortlandt Park time in program history. Only Kim DeLoreto (18:01 while winning the ECAC University Championship last November) has run faster on the storied course. Heninger also moved to sixth on SHU's all-time performers list for cross country.
Brittney Lane finished 24th with a time of 19:06, beating several All-NEC cross country athletes, and recording her best Van Cortlandt Park time by nine seconds.
Megan Papp crossed in 44th place in 19:35, beating her Van Cortlandt Park best by 41 seconds.
Brianna Castrogivanni also bested her Van Cortland Park best by two seconds, finishing 54th in 19:50.
Emma Bolduc, in her SHU debut, finished 61st in 19:57, but first among freshman from an NEC school.
Alyssa Selmquist followed in 67th in 20:03, only 14 seconds off her Van Cortlandt Park best.
Teresa Gagliostro came in 70th in 20:06, beating both her Van Cortlandt Park best and overall personal best by 37 seconds.
"The women turned in some excellent early season performances today, which I think are reflective of all the hard work they put in over the summer," sain head coach Christian Morrison. "Still, I didn't really expect them to run this well in our opening meet, given the hot conditions and relatively slow Van Cortlandt Park course. While it's very early, I have to say that I'm excited about our prospects for a successful season."
The Pioneer men did not run their top five returnees and several other men, but will run in the Monmouth Invitational next weekend. The top seven men runners include Aleksandr Morin (108th, 28:41), John Bigouette (125th, 29:09), Kevin Schumann (161st, 30:03 - a personal best by 16 seconds, and a Van Cortlandt best by 2:21), Stephen McNicholas, 171st, 30:33), Stephen Phillips (184th, 30:54), Jeffrey Benesch (193rd, 31:15), and Colby Jennings, (206th, 32:28).
"Our men have been looking strong in practice thus far, so I am looking forward to seeing what we can do when we run our full squad next weekend, " said Morrison.
The Pioneers run at the Monmouth Invitational Saturday, September 17 at 10:00 a.m.