By Megan Palumbo – Sports Editor
In past years, the men’s cross country team hasn’t had high numbers on their roster, but this year was different. Lucky for the team and Head Coach Patrick O’Neill, there are no seniors graduating, meaning the program can only grow for next year’s season.
Although there will be a familiar team next fall, O’Neill is a firm believer in recruiting heavily. He likes that Lasell offers student-athletes a place to excel academically and still be able to run at a competitive level.
“One thing I knew right away when I got to this program was I needed to add depth,” said O’Neill. “We needed numbers, so we got six on the guys side and five on the girls side. As a coach you always recruit. A year like this is nice when you’re not graduating anyone. I go to meets regularly in Boston to watch high school kids run.”
Having no seniors on the team caused the leadership role to be up in the air, but juniors Kyle Vonick and Troy Gonsalves gladly accepted the title during preseason. “I was a captain in high school so I’m kind of used to some of that experience here and I think a part of that is showing that I’m on the same level as everyone and I’m helping them come together to focus on one goal,” said Gonsalves.
“Troy definitely stepped up along with Kyle and did some team building things. We also had a team dinner in preseason, which we didn’t do last year, so the freshmen can get to know each other and their teammates better,” said O’Neill. “The upperclassmen as a whole did a good job of incorporating everyone.”
The men’s team finished strong at the GNAC Championships on October 29. The race was hosted at Franklin Park in Boston, where Lasell runners improved their times and earned new personal bests. “James Phelps really stepped up this past weekend at GNACs, speaking of personal bests he knocked over a minute off his previous best time. When you look at a season you look at a year in totality. It doesn’t get much better than setting a personal best at a championship meet so he stepped up in that moment which was huge,” said O’Neill.
Lasell’s cross country program has gone through many transitions over the years. Despite the coaching staff shifting and the team’s size fluctuating, the runners have had a successful season that can only improve in fall 2017. The team concluded their season at the DIII Regional Championship on Saturday, November 12, placing 49th overall for the men’s race.