PRESQUE ISLE, ME (11/7/11) -- When the USCAA Cross Country National Championships are run on November 11th in Lake Placid, NY, the University of Maine-Presque Isle will be represented by eight athletes from this year's men's and women's squads.
Owls' cross country coach Chris Smith is no stranger to national championship events. In his 25 years as coach at UMPI he has taken his runners to 16 NAIA National Championships. This will be his first USCAA national event, however.
"Although we've had runners at the NAIA nationals, individuals and teams, the USCAA fits our profile better and we'll be looking to race toward the top of this level of competition," said Smith.
The men's team will send five runners, qualifying them to earn a team score. Philip Boody (Fr./New Sweden, ME), Justin Fereshetian (Sr./Turner, ME), Richard Landry (So./Millvillage, ME), Daniel Dermody (Fr./Cheshire, MA), and Andrew Nesbitt (Fr./Williamstown, MA) will run the 8K course that begins at 12pm on Friday.
With the senior Fereshetian leading the way, and a strong crew of up-and-coming underclassmen, Smith is hoping to open some eyes.
"They all need to keep in mind that they are well trained and that the job now is to run to their potentials and focus on the work at hand," said Smith, "which should put many of them in the top half of the field."
On the women's side, three runners will be at the start when the 6K race begins at 11am on Friday. While they do not have enough to qualify for a team score, Kati Christoffel (Jr./Clifton Park, NY), Sarah Taylor (Fr./Industry, ME), and Emily Wright (Fr./Mapleton, ME)will look to make an impact for the Owls.
"(The course) will be rather tough with a few long, more gradual hills and a few shorter, steeper hills. This will require each athlete to be in tune with their own effort and to factor in more strategies than usual," Smith observed.