SMITHFIELD, RI (September 7, 2013) - The Sacred Heart men's & women's cross country teams ran in the Shawn M. Nassaney Invitational at Bryant University on Saturday afternoon. SHU senior Brianna Castrogivanni (Commack, NY) won the women's 5k race to lead the Pioneers.
Castrogivanni finished atop a field of 100 runners on Saturday, breaking the tape in 17:53.5 on the 5k course. It is the first career cross country victory for Castrogivanni, who came in off a fourth place finish at last weekend's Stony Brook Invitational.
Approaching the two mile mark, Castrogivanni and Emily Durgin of UConn began to separate from the rest of the frontrunners and traded the lead over the next 3/4 of a mile, before Castrogivanni pulled away to victory over the final 400 meters of the race. Her winning time was a new personal best on the Bryant course, and a new meet record as she topped last year's winning time of 18:00.1 by Harvard's Brianna Jackucewicz.
In 2012 Castrogivanni ran 18:36.8 in the Bryant Nassaney Invite to place 11th, and then went on to run 17:56.88 in the NEC Championships at Bryant, placing 4th n that race. Only Alyssa Selmquist, who clocked a second place time of 17:47.32 in the 2012 NEC meet has run faster for Sacred Heart on the Bryant course. Castrogivanni also missed her 5000 meter cross country personal best of 17:41.73, by less than 12 seconds.
"Bri looked great today and felt great," stated head coach Christian Morrison. "She stayed well within herself, was patient, and struck when the time was right to secure the victory. I think she can run much faster, when necessary, as we progress through the season. She's a prime example of what hard work, dedication, and commitment can result in for a distance runner."
Rounding out the Pioneers top finishers was Elizabeth Hutchins (Pawcatuck, CT) in 31st place with a time of 19:16.2 and junior Emma Bolduc (Peterborough, NH) in 35th iwth a time of 19:24.7. Hutchins improved 25 seconds on the 19:41.7 that she ran at this race in 2012.
"I am very pleased with the progress of this group thus far. The season is young, but if we stay healthy and continue on the path we are on, we're going to have a great season."
On the men's side, freshman Robert Challenor (Coram, NY) led all Pioneer runners fnishing 48th with a time of 17:28.8. Junior Colby Jennings (North Haven, CT) was 52nd in a time of 17:46.4 and freshman Cameron Swift (Oxford, CT) finished 55th at 18:12.7.
Saturday's race was unscored, but unoffical results would have placed the Pioneer women fifth in a field of nine teams, topping Bryant, picked second in the NEC Preseason Coaches Poll, Boston University, Northeastern ad Rhode Island.
Both Pioneer teams are back in action on Saturday, September 21st when they run at the Fairfield University Invitational.