By Scott Jarosz ’21
The Providence College Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Teams recently traveled to Carmel, Indiana to compete in the 2018 Big East Championships. The event took place on Friday, October 26 and consisted of a women’s 6K race followed by a men’s 8K race. The Friars went up against strong competition, and the women’s team finished in third place overall and the men finished fifth.
The women’s third place finish is especially impressive given the strength of Big East competition. The most dominant women’s team in the Big East is Villanova University, who ranks at number eight overall on the NCAA Women’s Cross Country rankings.
The women finished with 76 points, just three points behind second-place Georgetown University who finished with 73 points. In first place was Villanova, who finished with 21 points and three runners in the top five. Leading the Friars was Abbey Wheeler ’20 who had a strong performance and finished fourth overall among the women.
Wheeler finished with an overall time of 20:35.3 and a mile pace of 5:32. In the Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) Mini Meet the previous week, Wheeler placed second, which was good enough to lead the Friars to first place as a team and earn Wheeler the honor of Big East Female Athlete of the Week.
The next-best finisher for the women was Regan Rome ’19G who finished the 6K with an overall time of 21:22.9 and a pace of 5:45.
The men did not have quite as much success as the women in the Big East Championship, finishing in the middle of the pack at fifth place out of nine teams. The men finished with 117 points in the 8K, the same overall point total as Marquette University, who finished in fourth place. The lead runner for the Friars in the 8K was Ryan Gallagher ’21. Gallagher led the Friars by finishing in 18th place overall with a time of 25:15 and a pace of 5:05. Gallagher’s solid performance at the Big East Championship came just a week after finishing in second place at the CCSU Mini Meet and leading PC to first place as a team. Gallagher also earned the honor of Big East Male Athlete of the Week as a result, meaning PC swept the Big East Athlete of the Week honors for that week.
Next up for the Friars is the NCAA Northeast Regional, which is scheduled to take place on Friday, November 9 at the Audobon Golf Course in Buffalo, New York. The Northeast Regional is one of nine NCAA Regionals and consists of a women’s 6K at 11 a.m. followed by a men’s 10K at 12 p.m.
The women won regionals last year and will be in contention to repeat and punch another ticket to the NCAA championship. The men are looking to improve from their 12th place finish.
In order to qualify for the NCAA Championship the following week, the Friars must either finish among the top two teams overall at the Northeast Regional or receive one of 13 at-large bids. The top 38 individual runners are also selected to compete in the NCAA Championship.
The women have been working all year to make it to their seventh straight NCAA appearance and have the talent to do so. While it may be a lot to expect a young men’s team to upset multiple teams in order to make to it to the championship, there is plenty of potential for the team to find themselves in front of the pack.