By Emily Hayes
The Bridgewater State University men’s cross country team is looking for a new leader this season. And they have found one in their junior captain Dallas O’Brien.
In his third season with the Bears, O’Brien is facing a different scenario than in previous years. To go along with his captainship, he has become the pacer for the team.
Before this year, O’Brien never was the go-to guy. However, with the graduation of the Bears’ top two runners from last season, and another lead runner taking the year off to train, it is solely up to O’Brien to lead the team.
“I think he’s kind of feeling his way through,” said Bridgewater State men’s cross country head coach Jim Simoneau. “It’s a lot easier when you have two or three teammates pulling you through workouts and runs. He’s the guy that people are targeting and saying you need to pull them along. He’s learning to adjust in not only terms of motivating himself but he has a lot of responsibility being that young kids look up to him.”
O’Brien’s leadership and running abilities made him Simoneau’s go-to choice to be the team’s only captain.
“He’s our number one runner but he’s also our leader in terms of kids look up to in what do I need to do, how do I do it, how do I perform, where do I need to be, and what do I need to do,” Simoneau said. “He’s clearly the leader of the kids.”
O’Brien is trying to adapt to his entirely new situation this year.
“I’m just trying my best,” said O’Brien. “I’m trying to push myself as much as I can. I’m trying to push the guys as much as I can.”
Senior Andy Sukeforth, who has taken the year off from the team to train, was one of the best runners last season, earning Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year honors. He has run with O’Brien for three years and thinks O’Brien can handle his new situation.
“He’s a really strong runner,” said Sukeforth. “He’s probably the most mentally tough guy I’ve ever trained with. He has a lot of responsibility but he’s probably up to the task.”
With all the pressure put on him to lead the team, O’Brien knows he will receive support from his teammates.
“I like the family feeling best of running with BSU,” said O’Brien. “Everyone is really friendly, I just feel accepted.”
It’s been so far so good for O’Brien, as his captainship has been going well.
“I would definitely want him to be my captain,” said Sukeforth.
O’Brien and the rest of the Bears will run again on Saturday, October 5, at the Tri-State Invitational at 9:30 a.m.
Emily Hayes is a Comment sports writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.