The men and women’s cross country teams opened their seasons on Friday at home against Army. Both teams fought hard on a breezy day, but unfortunately fell short to the Black Knights. This year marks the third consecutive season that Maine and Army have started off the fall season running against each other.
On the women’s side, there were a total of 25 runners. Army placed the top three finishing runners, with the first-place winner being Samantha Coletti, with a time of 18:50.70, followed by second-year runners Bethany Nunnery and Hannah Deines, with times of 18:55.63 and 18:56.18 respectively.
Second-year Haley Lawrence from Ellsworth, Maine, came in first for the Black Bears and fourth overall, with a time of 19:02.06. Last year, Lawrence placed 66th overall in the America East Cross Country Championships at Stony Brook.
“I felt great. I trained all summer so it was definitely nice to get this result. The wind was annoying, and I thought about it throughout the race, but I tried not to notice it too much,” Lawrence said in regards to the first race of her junior campaign.
Maine’s next top female performer was fourth-year runner Kaitlyn Saulter. This is Saulter’s second year of running, having switched from soccer two years ago. She finished with a time of 19:10.51, placing her seventh overall for the day. In last year’s race against the Black Knights, Saulter came first for the Black Bears and fifth overall.
“I’m excited to start my senior season and my second year of running. I definitely did better today than in my trial runs last week but there’s definitely some work to do for this season,” Saulter said.
The women’s team gained five new first years: Sara Hunt, who finished 22nd, Emma Jourdain, who finished 11th, Kayla Livingston, who finished 24th and Cassandra Lucci, who did not compete.
On the men’s side, the team gained a lone first-year in John Hassett from Castine, Maine, who finished the day off 14th overall.
Fourth-year John Valeri from Army West Point came in first out of 29 runners, with a time of 25:22.5 and an average mile pace of 5:04.5. Second-year Roman Ollar from Army finished second overall, with a time of 25:22.9 and an average mile pace of 5:04.6. Third-year Aaron Willingham from Farmington, Maine, finished first for Maine and third overall, with a time of 25:24.3 and an average mile pace of 5:04.8.
In last year’s meet against Army, Willingham finished seventh with a time of 26:01.06. He also placed 11th overall at the America East Conference Championships last year, helping Maine finish as the conference runner-up.
“It was very windy today, but I’m happy with my result. I’m happy about my 35 second PR, it felt good,” Willingham said.
Maine’s next best runner was second-year Jacob Terry, who finished eighth overall with a time of 25:53.5, followed by third-year Joshua Horne, with a time of 25:54.9.
Both teams are led by Head Coach Mark Lech, who enters his 13th season with the Black Bears.
“I thought it was a good start for both men’s and women’s teams. I was happy with how both our teams competed and am optimistic for the rest of the season. Army always has powerful teams and is a tough first meet for us. Our focus is always on the conference championships at the end of October so that’s where our training always points towards,” Lech said.
The Black Bears’ next competition will take place at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Sept. 9 for the Minuteman Invitational. The women are scheduled to start at 11 a.m. and the men are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at the UMass Cross Country Course. Army will go on to race at the Army Open in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. on Sept. 15.