2015 Merrimack Cross Country Preview

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – With the opening of the season for the men and women quickly approaching in the Shacklette Invitational next weekend, both teams will look to build on quality seasons of last fall.

A Look Back at 2014

Highlighted by very impressive starts and top-10 finishes at the NCAA East Regional Championships for both squads, the men and women were able to post impressive overall seasons in 2014.

The men started off last season about as strong as they could have, winning their first race in Shacklette Invitational and following that up with back-to-back third-place finishes. The men finished the season on a high note as well, notching sixth-place at the Northeast-10 Championships for the second straight year and tying their best NE-10 finish since 2008. They closed out the year with another top-10 ranking in seventh at the East Regional Championship, two spots better than the previous season.

A strong start to the season was a theme for the women as well, finishing top-five in their first three races, including a first-place finish at the Kirsh Cross Country Cup. The top-five finishes rolled over to the NE-10 Conference Championship as the women ranked fourth in the NE-10 for the second year in a row. A solid season for the women was capped off by a sixth-place finish at the East Regional Championship.

The 2015 Squad

After graduating only three runners on each side last year, the men’s 22-member roster and the women’s 30-member roster are looking to utilize their experience to make noise in the region this fall.

While head coach Chris Cameron preaches running as a pack to the group, both teams do return some key individuals. For the men’s squad, junior Phil Harris (Plymouth, Mass.) seemed to find his stride in his second year with the team, finishing 13th at the NE-10 Championship and earning a spot on the all-conference second-team. Senior captain Evan Vadenais (Millville, Mass.) will look lead the men to success throughout the season while also figuring to contend for a spot on the All-Region team. Fellow Sophomore Connor Murphy (Paxton, Mass.) and Keith Steinbrecher (Wading River, N.Y.) will also look to have quality seasons and compete for All-Region distinction after strong rookie campaigns.

On the women’s side, the squad will turn to senior captains Kerry Phelan (Peabody, Mass.) and Kristin Schmidt (Athens, N.Y.) to lead the pack this fall. Phelan is coming off a great junior season that included two top-10 finishes and has the potential to qualify for nationals this year. Schmidt accrued All-Region honors as a sophomore and will look to return to that form after an injury set back her junior season. Junior Claire Aalerud (Winchester, Mass.) and sophomore Kylie Reardon (Billerica, Mass.) will help the groups’ depth, coming off breakout 2014 seasons that included a top-10 finish for each.

2015 Outlook

The Warriors’ cross country teams will begin their seasons on Saturday, Sept. 5 when they head to Manchester, N.H. to take part in the Shacklette Invitational.

You can catch the squads in North Andover when they race in the Homecoming 5K/Alumni Meet Saturday, October 17.

About Mike McMahon 6327 Articles
Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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