NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The 2017 Norwich University men’s cross country team is eyeing a three-peat in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) and improving on a 13th place finish at the 2016 NCAA Division III New England Regionals.
Last season, the Cadets won three races overall and return 12 from last season’s squad while bringing in eight newcomers.
Among the strong returners are sophomore Jack McNally (Nokesville, Va.) (second place at 2016 GNAC Championships), junior Brody Hale (Naugatuck, Conn.) (third place), sophomore Adam Saucier (Massena, N.Y.) and junior Korey Leonard (Pembroke, Mass.) (fifth place). McNally also earned GNAC Rookie of the Year honors becoming the fourth Cadet to do so in the last six seasons.
Head coach Nick Cooper enters his seventh season at the helm of the program and has led Norwich to three GNAC titles (2012, 2015 and 2016). Cooper has also been named GNAC Men’s Coach of the Year twice (2013 and 2015) and GNAC Women’s Coach of the Year once (2016).
When asked about this season Cooper said, “This is my favorite time of year and I’m excited the season is finally here. I'm pumped that Coach Mike (Cooper) is working with us again this year. Having his competitiveness of being a former D1 runner combined with his Doctorate in Physical Therapy is a huge help to the team. In addition to Mike we are lucky to have Kari Wentland become our team’s athletic trainer.” Cooper added, “Both teams hope to defend their conference championship. We also hope to have a fastest average time for the teams this year and move up in the New England region.”
“Jack McNally, Adam Saucier, Brody Hale, Korey Leonard, senior Connor Lafontaine (Tolland, Conn.), sophomore Ryan English (Frederick, Md.) and sophomore Warren Yacawych (Northfield, Vt.) all are aiming to be all-conference this year.”
The Cadets are changing up their schedule a bit this season, travelling to the Roger Williams Invitational in Rhode Island and the Paul Short Run in Pennsylvania.
“We change up our schedule a little every year,” Cooper said. “Part of it is me still exploring the different courses in New England. But usually it's for some purpose. We are going to Roger Williams to start our season this year because JWU (Johnson & Wales) will be hosting the GNAC championship at the same location. So this gives the team a chance to get familiar with the course. We then like to balance the season with some challenging courses and a few faster courses. We also like to race the best competition we can. That will likely mean we won't win as many meets as we did last year but our teams will get to race some of the top teams in the country regularly this season.”
The men’s squad opens their season at the aforementioned Roger Williams Invitational on Saturday, September 2nd at 9:30 a.m. This year’s GNAC Championship is slated for Saturday, October 28th at 2:00 p.m. at Colt State Park in Bristol, R.I.