WESTFIELD, Mass. – Merrimack freshman runner Kerry Phelan (Peabody, Mass.) set a new program record in the 5-kilometer race, as the Warrior cross country teams displayed a successful showing in the highly competitive New England Championships on Sunday afternoon in Westfield, Mass.
Both the men's and women's teams competed against the best level of cross country competition throughout the New England region. In addition to facing some familiar rivals at the Division II level, the Warriors also ran against schools from Division I and Division III, including some of the best teams in the region and country at the highest DI level.
Led by Phelan, the Merrimack women managed to finish in a highly respectable 28th place out of 37 total teams, beating Division I foe Northeastern and fellow Northeast-10 Conference rivals Saint Michael's, Saint Anselm, UMass-Lowell, New Haven and Franklin Pierce, as well.
The men, meanwhile, finished in 32nd place overall out of 37 teams, edging ahead of conference foes Franklin Pierce, New Haven and Saint Michael's and just behind former conference rival and now-Division I Bryant University.
Phelan, meanwhile, set a new school record in the 5-kilometer race with a time of 18:43.19, leading the pack for the Warrior women. Behind her, sophomore Kelsey Grimmer (Shelton, Conn.) was the next-best Merrimack women's runner, finishing in 139th with a time of 19:22.88. Finally, senior Christina Fisher (Manfield Center, Conn.) rounded out the top three for the women with a time of 19:50.39 in 175th place.
"That was a brilliant race for Kerry and I couldn't be more proud of her in setting a new school record," head coach Chris Cameron said afterward. "I think our girls ran a real solid race today and we'll certainly try to keep building on this."
In the men's circuit, freshman Nick Christensen (Peabody, Mass.) continued to lead the way en route to his team-leading time of 26:15.65, which placed him 140th overall. Behind him, sophomore Sherif Ali (Cliffside Park, N.J.) represented the second-best Merrimack runner with a time of 26:54.08 in 183rd place, just ahead of third-best runner Adam Gidley (Salem, N.H.), who rounded out the top three with a time of 26:54.42.
"I was certainly pleased with the efforts from both the men and the women, but we need to continue to work on tightening that gap between the No. 1 and No. 5 runner," Camerson said. "That could ultimately determine our fate at the NE-10 championships in two weeks, so we'll be working very hard at that over the coming two weeks or so."
The Warriors will enjoy the next weekend off before competing in the Northeast-10 Conference Championships on Saturday, Oct. 20, in Syracuse, N.Y.