By GREG LAUDANI
The UNH men’s cross-country team took a step backward Saturday in Franklin Park, finishing 22nd at the New England Championships after placing third at the event last season.
Sam Gagnon turned in the best Wildcat performance of the day as the senior finished 35th overall in a time of 25 minutes, 27.23 seconds.
Junior Mitchell Dutton snapped the tape second for UNH at 111th overall in 26:07.98.
Sophomore Drew Piazza rounded out the Wildcats’ top trio with a time of 26:20.01 for 129th.
New Hampshire totaled 553 points and averaged a time of 26:11.91. Team captain Brendan McCarthy did not race but will likely compete next weekend against some of the country’s most talented collegiate athletes at the NCAA Division I Pre-National Meet in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, Oct. 17.
McCarthy last raced at the Boston Coast-to-Coast meet on Sept. 20 and finished first for UNH and 91st overall in 25:35.0. Gagnon clocked in at the same time as McCarthy for 92nd place.
The Wildcats had been trending upward over the last few years in terms of their results at the New England Championship meet. New Hampshire placed 20th in 2012 and 15th in 2013 before rising up to third place at the New England Championship meet a year ago.
Then-seniors John Prizzi, Kevin Greene, Zachary Chabot and Jeff Moretti anchored the Wildcats’ third-place finish a year ago. With those top runners now graduated, UNH still has a very talented group but it is still a very young group of runners.
UNH has only three seniors in McCarthy, Gagnon and Luke Miller. Meanwhile, the team is loaded with 12 freshmen and nine sophomores. The Wildcats look to continue developing their young runners as the Oct. 31 America East title meet rapidly approaches.
New Hampshire gets one step closer to the conference championship next Saturday when they journey to E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky, for the Pre-National meet.
Men 22nd at New Englands
By GREG LAUDANI