Setting the Table: Last season the Owl men's cross country team finished 3rd in the NAIA Sunrise Conference Championships and 9th in the Maine State Championships. Justin Fereshetian (Jr./Turner, ME) qualified to participate in the NAIA National Championships. On the women's side, the Lady Owls finished 1st in the NAIA Sunrise Conference Championship. Three women,Kathleen Christoffel (So./Clifton Park, NY), Shelly Hanson (So./Charleston, ME), and Carly Langley (Fr./Truro, NS) qualified for the NAIA National Championship. Head Coach Chris Smith was named the NAIA Sunrise Conference Coach of the Year.
In case you missed it: The 2011 women's cross country team has had to work its way through inexperience and injuries thus far this season. The team has three freshmen and no seniors. The team's "elder statesman", juniorKathleen Christoffel has been hampered by an ankle injury the first part of the season. On the men's side, the story is somewhat similar. Justin Fereshetian is back and has excelled in his senior year. The rest of Coach Smith's squad is comprised of freshmen and sophomores who continue to make strides in their progress.
Coach Smith on his team's progress thus far: "All of our athletes are rounding in to form, some got all of their homework done over the summer, they're doing very well; some that didn't prepare as much as they might have, they are coming along pretty well. We have had a few minor injuries we have pretty well worked through them with the help of AT (Athletic Training). Looks good from here on out."
Impact players:Fereshetian, on the men's side, has paced the Owls in each event thus far. Christoffel, looking to fully recover from early season injuries, put together the team's fastest run in September's Codfish Bowl in Boston, MA.
Coach Smith on the biggest difference between this year's team and last year's squad: "The women are capable of running as well as last year. We have a couple people that need to come along a little bit more, but we should be just about as strong as last year. The guys' team is decidedly stronger. We have three guys this year (Daniel Dermody, Andrew Nesbitt, and Philip Boody) running ahead of our 'number two' last year."
On the horizon: The men's and women's teams will have three more meets in October to get their times to the point of being invited to the USCAA Nationals. On Saturday, October 8th they will run in the Runnin' Monks Invite in Standish, ME. The Maine State Championships will be hosted by Bates College in Cumberland, ME on October 15th. And on October 22nd, the Owls will run at the Maine Maritime Academy Invitational in Castine, ME.
Coach Smith on looking ahead: "We wanna be running strong enough to be sent USCAA National Meet on November 11th, in Lake Placid, New York. We have to run to a certain standard for us to be able to go. But that's our goal and we are working hard towards it, and we'll just see what the outcome is."