WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's and women's cross country teams impressed a boisterous crowd gathered on the green Friday afternoon, finishing first on the men's side and runner-up on the women's side in the annual Blue Jay Invitational, held on the campus of USJ.
Junior captain David Kavanaugh (West Hartford, Conn.) headlined the Blue Jay runners with his third-career win, crossing the line in 17 minutes and five seconds, 15 ticks ahead of his young-gun teammate, freshman up-and-comer Braeden Laframboise (Southington, Conn.), running in just his second-career collegiate event. On the women's side, USJ placed two runners in the top-10, led by junior Makenzie Dinger (Hingham, Mass.), who finished fourth. The USJ men took the overall team title convincingly, while the women hung tough for a runner-up result.
Event: Blue Jay Invitational
Results: USJ Men – 1st of 3, USJ Women – 2nd of 4
Location: University of Saint Joseph | West Hartford, Conn.
RUNNER QUOTE [David Kavanaugh] "It was just a great field of competitors out here today. I always have Braeden [Laframboise] pushing on me during the races and during practice. He was just in the back of my mind. I knew I wanted to get out fast and see how far ahead I could get. I'm so proud of these boys today though. I was really looking for us to get a team win…that is really what is important to me, as their friend, as their teammate, and as their captain. We are really showing that USJ is here to stay, and we are going for a Great Northeast Athletic Conference Title in these next few years."
RUNNER QUOTE [Madison Hall] "I would say [the course] was definitely a little more challenging this year. We had some runners who were unable to participate today, which was kind of a shocker, but we were able to have Mackenzie [Dinger] come from the field hockey team, and she ran a great race. We ran together, finished strong, and that is why we were able to come away with a runner-up finish."
COACH QUOTE [Andrew Fink] "I am super pumped to be able to host our event. Great to have the other coaches and teams who came today. Our team is really starting to come together. On the women's side, we had some adversity today, we did not know how we were going to finish, but I am really proud of how they finished strong and got the runner-up result. Both teams placing and getting medals and plaques, we are super excited for what next week can be as we continue to head in the right direction."
THE RUNDOWN – MEN'S 5K
Kavanaugh got out to an enormous lead, with his teammate Laframboise hanging on about 15 seconds behind. The junior captain and now back-to-back Blue Jay invite winner finished nearly two minutes ahead of the next closest school, third-place Yury Buttrick of Dean College (19:04). USJ placed five runners in the top-10 in a 36-runner field.
Freshman Patrick O'Connor (Cheshire, Conn.) added a career-best fifth-place finish for USJ (19:48). It was good enough for the team to take first in the overall standings with just 23 total points. Dean was runner-up at 44 points, and Mitchell was third with 60.
THE RUNDOWN – WOMEN'S 5K
The 29-runner women's 5K saw a freshman take the spotlight, as Alyson Richard of Lasell flat-out dominated the event, crossing the line in 22:05, 25 seconds ahead of the next closest runner. A set of Mariners made it across next to round out the podium in sophomore Lara Jacobs (22:30) and freshman Abby Rasmussen (23:48). Dinger, a midfielder for the USJ field hockey team, was a late entry to aid the Blue Jays, and she did just that, placing a respectable fourth in her XC debut in 23:52. Junior Madison Hall (Norfolk, Conn.) placed ninth for USJ in 26:55. A 10th and 12th-place run was enough for the Blue Jays to claim second overall with 55 total points, 24 points behind the winners, Lasell University. Mitchell rounded out the podium with 65.
The Blue Jays will be back in action next on Saturday, September 25 in the Blazer Classic Invitational, at 11:00 a.m., held at Chicopee Memorial State Park in Chicopee, Mass.