By Meaghan Cahill ’20
Despite the high temperatures for running this past weekend, Abbey Wheeler ’20 was able to pull off a first-place finish at the seventh annual Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown cross country meet. Having won the race last year as well, Wheeler became the second runner to win back-to-back in the race’s history.
Wheeler, who likened Saturday’s temperatures to last year’s track nationals in Austin, Texas, definitely noticed the heat’s effect on her race.
“This year was a lot harder,” she said. “Last year, I had a big gap so that I could glide in.” The seven-second gap that Wheeler had on the other runners last year was not present in this year’s race. Instead, her win came down to the final 200 meters where she managed to out-sprint the two Syracuse University runners that would take second and third place, respectively. Wheeler’s 17:03 time was not only a personal best for the Franklin Park course where the meet was held, but also a seven second improvement on her time from last year.
“I’m happy for Abbey,” said Providence College Cross Country Head Coach, Ray Treacy. “She’s been running really well for us.”
Wheeler, whose goal for her final season at PC is to find the “perfect” race, said that the Battle in Beantown is the second biggest race of the season for both the Providence College Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams before the Big East Championships and Nationals—the first being the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational meet.
“There is always good competition,” said Wheeler. “Schools come from far away. The bigger the meet is, the further people will come.”
However, despite the importance of the Battle in Beantown for both teams, Wheeler points out, “We don’t race that much, so every meet is important.”
After Wheeler finished, the next Friar for the women’s team to cross the finish line was Maria Coffin ’21. Coffin came in 12th place with a time of 17:40, a 12-second improvement on her 17:52 28th place finish last year.
Lily Tuck ’23, Orla O’Connor ’23, and Hannah McReavy ’22 completed the list of top-five finishers for PC and the women’s team finished eighth out of the 22 women’s teams present.
The men’s cross country team was also present at the meet and finished 12th out of the 21 men’s teams present.
David Rosas ’21 was the first to finish for the Friars. Coming in 24th place overall, Rosas improved upon his last year’s 32nd place finish. After Rosas, Sean Meehan ’22 was the 57th runner to cross the finish line. Peter Rindfuss ’20 and Ryan Gallagher ’21 rounded out the top five runners for the College.
Looking ahead, the Friars will be back at Franklin Park on Oct. 12 for the New England Championships before they head to Madison, Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 18. Following these two big meets, they will head to New Britain, CT for the Central Connecticut State University Mini Meet at the end of October and then the first week of November will be when both teams compete at the Big East Championship meet.
“Big East is really bunched up this year,” said Wheeler. “Usually there is a front-running team but I think depth will play a big role in Big East this year. It is always quite competitive…and so hard to tell.”
With that in mind, the goal for both teams, according to Wheeler, is to continue to return to nationals year after year and put runners up on the podium.
“That is something that we try and build at Providence. That is what you strive to do,” said Wheeler.