By Joseph Carosi
The Roger Williams University men and women’s cross country teams competed in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) championship race last weekend, hosted by Western New England University.
This was a big race for both teams, as it showed how strong each team has come so far this season. This strength was shown in full force as both teams placed third out of the nine competing teams in this race. The women’s team is coming off of another strong performance two weeks ago at the WNE Invitational where they placed second overall. The men’s team had a strong performance as well at the WNE Invitational, finishing in the eighth spot in that race.
The women’s team improved from last season’s fifth place finish in this same race. Helping them bring home the bronze was freshman Sarah Mawdsley, who finished in ninth place overall with a time of 24:18. Mawdsley has been a big part of the team’s success this season, and delivered in this race. Following close behind was junior Jackie Applin who finished the race with a final time of 24:40. This time earned her a 16th place finish overall.
Continuing the strong performance was freshman Hannah Kaplan, who finished just nine-seconds behind Applin with a time of 24:49. This was Kaplan’s best time this season. Closing out the top five for the women’s team were junior Brianna Hoffner and sophomore Piper Wilbur. Each of these runners improved from their placings last year. Hoffner finished the race with a time of 25:19, earning a 26th place finish overall. Wilbur finished just three seconds behind with a time of 25:22, earning her a very respectable 27th place finish. This was arguably the strongest performance for the team this season, and gives them a lot of confidence for their next race.
The men’s team followed the example set by the women’s team, bringing home a third place finish for RWU. Leading the way for the team was junior Matt Simonelli. For the men’s team, this been the season of Simonelli. Nearly every race this season, Simonelli has led the team in scoring, and has always put on an impressive performance overall. This race was no different as he finished in eleventh place overall with a time of 27:33.
The next runner to cross the finish line for the Hawks was junior Luke Emby. This was Emby’s best performance of the season. He would finish with a time of 28:19 and place 16th overall. Trailing Emby was another junior Andrei Safontchik. The season didn’t start off to well for Safontchik, but he has made significant improvements over the last few weeks, and broke his personal record this race with a time of 28:30, and a 18th place finish overall. Finishing right behind Safontchik was freshman Kyle Wrynn who finished the race with a time of 28:36, earning him 19th place overall. Closing out the top five for the men’s team was junior Nick Sasso who had a solid performance, after missing out on the last few races, with a time of 28:51.
The two star runners at this race were freshman Sarah Mawdsley and junior Matt Simonelli. Mawdsley has been arguably the biggest surprise for the women’s cross country team as this is her first season with the team. What makes this athlete even more noteworthy is that she is only a freshman and has three more strong years ahead of her. If she were to improve any more it would be possible to see her place in the top five of this race next season. Matt Simonelli has been the most consistent runner for the men’s team. He has been the MVP of the team this season without question, and still has time to improve on his performance as he has one more season to go before he graduates.
The teams will return in two weeks when they will compete in the New England Division III tournament hosted by Westfield State College.