COLCHESTER, Vt. - With their regular seasons complete, the Saint Michael's College men's and women's cross country teams head to the Northeast-10 Conference Championship on Sunday at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. The women's 6K begins at 11 a.m. and the men's 8K at 12:15 p.m. Teams can start a maximum of 14 student-athletes.
Each Purple Knight team is under the guidance of head coach Molly Peters, who is amid her 16th year with the women and first with the men. Neither competed during their traditional fall campaign last school year, as this year's NE10 Championship is the first being contested since fall 2019.
The men have consistently been led by a trio of rookies. Sophomore Noah Taracena (Hampton, N.H./Winnacunnet) paced the Purple Knights three times in four races, posting two seventh-place showings and a 24th-place finish in that time. During his lone race not topping the squad, he was second at the Vermont Intercollegiate Championship to junior Will Coppola (Groveland, Mass./Pentucket Regional), the second state titlist in program history. Coppola was second on the team in each of the other three races, cracking the top 15 twice. Junior Alex Frank (Colchester, Vt./Colchester) was third for the Purple and Gold three times, including placing third at states.
Senior Jake Donnelly (Londonderry, N.H./Londonderry) has scored top-five points at every meet, finishing third on the team at the Oct. 9 James Earley Invitational. Senior Matt Gianni (Stowe, Vt./Stowe) was the Purple Knights' fourth scorer at each of his three races, while classmate James Downs (Winchester, Mass./Winchester) and first-year Pat McGloine (Schuylerville, N.Y./Schuylerville) have also scored at every meet thus far. Saint Michael's won its second straight Vermont Intercollegiate Championship, took second among five schools at Middlebury College's Aldrich Invitational, and placed seventh out of 26 at the Earley Invitational.
Junior Maggie Burnham (Holden, Mass./Wachusett Regional) and sophomore Katie Culliton (Glens Falls, N.Y./Glens Falls) have topped the women twice apiece, including as Burnham won the state meet on Oct. 1 and took 13th to lead Saint Michael's at the Aldrich Invitational, edging Culliton by 1.5 and 1.1 seconds, respectively, in those races. Culliton was the first Purple Knight to cross at Saint Anselm's Shacklette Invitational, finishing in a virtual tie with first-year Addy Dolley (Brunswick, Maine/Brunswick), before leading the squad at the Earley Invitational. Burnham was the third Saint Michael's finisher at the two meets Culliton set the pace, while senior Ingrid Boland (Old Saybrook, Conn./Old Saybrook Senior) rounded out the team's top three during each of the past three meets.
Dolley, junior Hallie Benton (Limerick, Maine/Massabesic) and sophomore Abby Kittler (Pittsfield, Mass./Pittsfield) complete the Purple Knights' regular scoring contingent, while senior Rachel Smith (Old Forge, N.Y./Town of Webb) and junior Filippa Hemmestorp (Malmö, Sweden/Malmö Borgarskola) have scored twice apiece. Saint Michael's won its second straight state crown, was third of five at the Aldrich Invitational, and placed eighth among 30 schools during the Earley Invitational.
In an NE10 pre-championship coaches' poll, which was released on Friday, the Saint Michael's women were slotted 11th among 14 schools and the men 12th. With 60 points, the Purple Knight women finished shy of Adelphi University (93) and Bentley University (66), teams they outdistanced by 23 and 17 points, respectively, at the Shacklette Invitational. Stonehill College topped the rankings with 161 points. On the men's side, the Purple and Gold totaled 47 points, placing behind the University of New Haven (52) and Bentley (60), which it bested by 44 points at the Earley Invitational and by 18 points at the Shacklette Invitational, respectively. American International College, which is ranked 19th nationally by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), was first (166).