DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Running in her first race of the season, two-time All-Little East Conference performer Samantha McKosky (Deep River) placed in the top seven percent of 318 finishers in the women's race with a time of 19:09 over 5000 meters, and freshmen Ryan Escoda (Newtown) and John Walker (Westerly, RI) and sophomore Brian Balkus (Ashford) paced a young men's team for the second straight meet as the Warriors' top three finishers at the 46th Annual University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Buddy Harris Invitational Saturday on the UMD campus.
Although sickness relegated top three runner Haley Knox (Bristol) to 190th place overall, the women improved their lot four places in a field of five additional teams from a year ago, taking 12th overall among 45 scoring teams with 455 points. Despite Knox' place – 91 spots lower than last year -- Eastern trailed Little East rival Keene State by only seven points. The Warriors were second among five LEC teams.
Despite mixing in three newcomers from last year's race among the top five, the men matched last year's 23rd place finish (in a field of one less team this year), totaling 620 points (34 less than a year ago).
Escoda placed among the top 26 percent in a field of 295 finishers over the men's 8000 course, crossing in 77th place overall (75 scoring points) in a time of 27:12.75. The top four Eastern finishers – which included sophomore Maxwell Chace (Brooklyn) – came across within 63 places and within 1:21 of one another. Walker was 110th overall (27:43), Balkus 142nd (28:29) and Chace 143rd overall (28:33). Rounding Eastern's five scoring runners was first-year sophomore Cameron Gonzales (Plainfield).
Behind McKosky for the women were senior Christina Gosselin (Old Saybrook), sophomore Sylvia Lawrence (Woodstock), junior Rachel Osak (Portland) and first-year sophomore Lauren Bresson (Roxbury). Gosselin (95th/20:24) and Lawrence (98th/20:27) were within three places and three seconds of each other and Osak (126th/20:42) and Bresson (129th/20:43) within three places and a second of each other. Gosselin ran No. 7 for Eastern in this race last year, and Osak sixth.
Displacing as the No. 6-7 runners for the women were juniors Maggie Dulak (North Branford) and Hayley Brodeur (Old Saybrook). Dulak (20:47) was 135th overall and Brodeur (21:32) 174th in her first collegiate cross country race. Displacing for the men were freshman Jorich Swift (Mansfield) and senior Ryan Adams (Manchester). Swift (29:30) was 177th overall, Adams (30:15) 197th.
Eastern competes in the Gordon College Pop Crowell Invitational Saturday at 10:45 a.m.