By Matt Melia
So far this season, both the Bridgewater State University men’s and women’s cross country teams have shown they are contenders for the upcoming championship races in November.
Already halfway through the season, each team seems to be keeping up with their competition, and striving to be the best in their conference week after week.
“One big, important thing I push for is consistency,” said Bridgewater State head coach Jim Simoneau. “To make progress, and to have your best races at the end of the season are most important.”
With both teams filled with underclassmen, they are showing promise.
Simoneau said that in past seasons they were not a pack running team, but that they had more of an every runner for themselves attitude.
“The teammates are really closer to each other,” said Simoneau. “It’s more of a team aspect [this year], they can really help and rely on each other.”
For the men’s team, junior Dallas O’Brien, the team captain and top runner, has led the team and his teammates have followed.
This year, O’Brien has been having a great season with a third place finish at the Tri-State Invitational on October 5.
Being the most experienced and veteran runner on the team, O’Brien understands his leadership role impacts the rest of his teammates.
“You got to keep the team focused,” said O’Brien. “My main goal is just to keep team morale high, keep people healthy, and make sure people don’t do more work than they should.”
This past Saturday, the men’s team placed 17 out of 35 teams at the James Earley Invitational, hosted by Westfield State University.
O’Brien looks to improve and have a larger impact for next week’s meet at the Connecticut College Invitational.
“For Connecticut, it’s more of just seeing who’s ahead, pacing myself with them and just seeing what happens,” O’Brien said.
Like the men’s team, the women’s team has a young leader.
Sophomore Danielle Poto has performed well in recent weeks and has been named the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week five times this season, including this week, and the title is only motivation to keep improving.
“It makes me feel pretty honored, because I’ve never gotten that kind of recognition before,” said Poto. “I just want to keep trying my best and demonstrate to the girls to also do their best; I guess it shows that hard work pays off.”
Poto discussed that she will maintain a steady approach and routine for the meets in the coming weeks.
“I plan on just staying focused, just get in that mindset, think of how much we’ve worked,” said Poto. “Don’t just give up; what’s the point in trying so hard if you’re not giving it your all.”
Simoneau discussed how O’Brien and Poto are crucial members of their respective teams, and how they impact their teammates.
“It’s certainly very important; they’re both leaders through example, and they’re both young,” said Simoneau. “The future looks bright. Being led by younger people helps the freshmen and the transfer students in terms of what work they need to do to succeed at a college level.”
On October 19, both teams will run in the Connecticut College Invitational in preparation for the upcoming championship races.
Matt Melia is a Comment contributor. Editor-In-Chief Greg Dudek edited this story. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.