SMITHFIELD, R.I. – With all the preparations complete, the Bryant University cross country teams will compete for their first ever title this weekend at the Northeast Conference championships that will be held by Central Connecticut at Stanley Park in New Britain, Conn.
The Bulldogs will try to top a historic 2013-14 season in which they earned the best results in program history, finishing second in the women's and fourth in the men's.
This year, the women will try and knock off defending champ Sacred Heart. Leading the way will be the veteran duo of fifth-year senior Martha Reynolds (London, England) and junior Annmarie Tuxbury (New Hartford, Conn.). Both have earned All-NEC honors each of the last two seasons, while Tuxbury is a former NEC Rookie of the Year. Reynolds has finished fifth and fourth in each of the last two years, while Tuxbury has finished ninth in each of her first two years. This season, Reynolds has paced the Bulldogs in all four races she has competed in, including a career-best 10th-place finish at the New England championships.
Bryant will also look to the veteran group of Kara Walsh (Waltham, Mass.), Brooke Tomasetti (Waterford, Conn.) and Staci Rezendes (Ludlow, Mass.). Walsh finished 22nd at last year's championships to round out Bryant's top five runners. Sophomore Emily McNeil (Shelton, Conn.), the 2013 NEC Rookie of the Year, is also back and is healthy after missing the first three races of the season.
On the men's side, the Black and Gold welcome back all five of their top finishers from last year's championships. The Bulldogs will be trying to unseat host and reigning champion Central Connecticut. Senior classmates Francis Foley (Acton, Mass.) and Blake Fenwick (Thomaston, Conn.) will be the leaders for the Black and Gold on Saturday. Foley has been first or second in all five races this season and is coming off a 17th-place finish last year. The Black and Gold placed their next four runners in the top 30, with junior Thomas Mullally (Mastic Beach, N.Y.) running to a 21st place finish.
The Black and Gold will also hope to get a boost from freshman Milan Duka (Belgrade, Serbia). Duka has put together a fantastic rookie campaign and has the chance to be one of the top runners this weekend in Connecticut.
Saturday's championships will begin at 11:00 a.m. with the women's 5k. The men's 8k will follow at noon.