MANCHESTER -- Running the Trinity College Bantam Cross Country Invitational at Wickham Park was nothing new for the veterans on the Eastern Connecticut State University women's cross country team. And their performances reflected that.
With seven members of the team having participated in the race a combined total of 15 times previously, the women repeated their third-place finish of a year ago – with all seven bettering their times from a year ago -- in a field of 11 teams (which was three more than a year ago).
Integrating nine newcomers into its team, the men finished in a solid fifth in a field of 11 (up from eight a year ago), with three of their five scoring runners competing in their first collegiate race as freshmen.
The meet was the season-opener for both programs.
Led by senior tri-captain Kassandrah Banks (Wethersfield), Eastern's five scoring runners crossed the finish line within 35 seconds of each other. Banks was competing in the race for the fourth time, as was senior Evalin Brautigam (Bethel). Brautigam knocked 13 seconds off her time of a year ago, with Brautigam bettering her 2016 time by 17 seconds.
Junior Haley Knox (Bristol) was Eastern's second finisher, with No. 5 runner, junior Samantha McKosky (Deep River), only 11 seconds off Knox' pace. Between Knox and McKosky were freshman Sylvia Lawrence (Woodstock) and senior tri-captain Amanda Terenzi (Coventry, RI). Rounding out the top seven were sophomores Rachel Osak (Portland) and Samara Johnson (Lebanon).
Among 100 runners who started the race, Banks was tenth overall (21:13), Knox 17th (21:37), Lawrence 21st (21:42), Terenzi 22nd (21:43) and McKosky 24th (21:48). Twelve of the team's 13 roster runners participated with the exception of senior tri-captain Ariel Smith (Stratford).
Freshman Maxwell Chace (Brooklyn) made the most of his first collegiate race for the men, placing 22nd overall in an original field of 128 runners (top 17 percent). Senior Cooper Goslin (South Windsor) – the men's most experienced runner – followed Chace, with freshman Brian Balkus (Ashford) the team's third runner, senior co-captain Noah Hallisey (East Lyme) fourth and freshman Henry Klarman (Cheshire) fifth. Rounding out the top seven were first-year sophomore Zachary Parisella (Hamden) and freshman Sean McHugo (Coventry). All 12 of the team's members finished the race, with Goslin and Hallisey completing their careers having run this race every season.
Chase was timed in 17:51 and was followed closely by Goslin (17:57). Balkus was timed in 18:10, Hallisey in 18:36 and Klarman in 19:26. Goslin was 29th overall, Balkus 38th, Hallisey 53rd and Klarman 67th.
Eastern competes at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Invitational Saturday at 10:15 a.m.