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November 12, 2011

Men's cross country caps a season of improvement at NCAA regionals

CANTON, N.Y. -- The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's cross country team continued their season of improvement at the NCAA Atlantic Regional Championships on Saturday.

The conditions were perfect for racing and the competition was some of the best the nation has to offer in the meet, which was hosted bu St. Lawrence University.

The Mariners finished 28th of 43 teams, improving their placement by four spots and their team score by more than  80 points from a year ago.

"With such a young team this year our goals have been to simply show marked improvement from a season ago; we have consistently done this throughout the year," coach Greg Lott said. "On last year's team, six of the seven runners were seniors and juniors.  This year we raced four freshman, two sophomores and one senior at the NCAA Regional Meet. We have a unit that is going to be around for a while now. They lacked experience but they still outperformed our squad from last season."

Six of the seven men that raced ran a lifetime best.

Freshman David McGowan ran the 8K course faster than any Mariner has run at that distance over the past two seasons (28:08).

Senior Logan Swan's leadership was invaluable as he helped pace the front pack for USMMA. Swan was also the second-finisher for the Mariners with a time of 28:24 in his final cross-country race of his career.

Freshman Nicholas Walsh and sophomore Nathan Rogers ran fantastic races dropping their personal records by 37 and 25 seconds, respectively. They were the third and fourth Mariners finishers, coming through in times of 28:26 and 28:41.

Sophomore Sam Sanford dropped 10 seconds off his previous best coming across the line in 28:46. The most impressive performance, however, came from freshman Anthony Konecni. Konecni was an alternate entering the ECAC Championships a week prior and Lott decided to have him race in place of fresman Matt Pastuszak for the NCAA Regional meet. Konecni dropped on 1:09 off of his best race to date coming across the line as the sixth Mariner in 29:30.

"Our men ran very well," Lott said. "It is so exciting to see the improvement, both individually and as a collective group. They are bonding so well and helping each other however they can. The group ran their best race of the season in the race where they were supposed to do so. This is a fun group to coach and I am very proud of them. I cannot wait to see them shoot up the regional rankings over the next couple of years together."

Photo: Freshman Anthony Konecni, an alternate at the NCAA Regionals, raced and cut 1:09 off his best time.