WESTFIELD, Mass. - In a field of more than 40 teams, many of which were there partly to run the course as a preview to next month's NCAA Division III qualifying race being run on the same venue, the Lancers finished 18th overall at the James Earley Invitational, hosted by Westfield State on Saturday.
"As the team continues to improve week to week, their times have gotten faster," commented head coach Al Halper. "I am pleased with the weekly development of the entire squad. Not only are their times dropping significantly, but their ability to incorporate the little things we stress into their race tactics is also better week to week."
"We are more aggressive and more confident in our racing with a half season's experience behind us," said Halper. "Being successful each week does a lot for the guys believing in themselves too.
Halper further noted, "The Stanley Park course is traditionally a fast course and was again today. The impressive thing is that everyone who has run the course before, ran their fastest time ever on the course today. "
Worcester State's sophomore Michael Ricci (Peabody, Mass.) was again the number one runner finishing with a time of 27:18.87, 37 seconds faster than last year. He was followed by freshman Richard Custodio (Wakefield, Mass.) with a time of 27:53.09, junior Devin Luce (Milford, Mass.), and sophomores Joseph Grider (Hopedale, Mass.), and Christian Vera (Worcester, Mass.) – all within the 28th minute marker.
"This group of guys are dedicated and have put in the grinding miles and hard work daily," said Halper. "We are gearing up for the conference meet several weeks away. We want a finish that shows our progress this year and rewards us for our continual efforts to get to that next level of success.
"With a few weeks to go, I am sure we will see a few surprises and hopefully, have a series of "Breakthrough races" at the conference championships if all goes well," concluded Halper.
Next Saturday (Oct. 15) the team travels to Western New England University for their invitational.