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KSC Set for LEC Cross Country Championships

KEENE, N.H., 10/29/08 - It’s been three years since Keene State has captured both men’s and women’s Little East Conference cross country championships, and KSC Coach Peter Thomas feels the Owls will do something about that on Saturday.

Both Owl teams will be clear favorites when they step to the starting line at Stanley Park in Westfield, Mass. The gun for the women’s race goes off at 10:45 a.m., while the men will leave the line at 11:30 a.m.

“I think this is the year we bring both championships back to Keene,” said Thomas. “The women want to continue their dominance, and the guys want to win back the trophy.”

Thomas has good reason to feel confident about his teams’ chances on Saturday. The KSC women will be looking for their ninth-straight LEC title, and the Owl men have also claimed nine consecutive crowns, though they came up just short the past two years, losing both times to Southern Maine. However, the Keene State men, ranked 28th nationally and fifth in New England, brought home an impressive win at last weekend’s Saratoga (N.Y.) Invitational. Both teams are looking very strong heading into the race.

The Owl men have been led by the sophomore trio of Craig MacPherson (Derry, N.H.), Brandon Schillemat (Nelson, N.H.), and Jeff Trethewey (Merrimack, N.H.). Senior Jason Garrity (Topsfield, Mass.), junior Pat Davis (Wethersfield, Conn.), and sophomore Tim Pipp (New Ipswich, N.H.) have also given Keene State a legitimate lead pack with NCAA aspirations. “One of our team goals this year was to win the conference championship,” said MacPherson, a two-time LEC Runner of the Week. “It’s really important, because we’ve never gone to nationals after losing the conference title. I think it will be a confidence booster for everyone.”

Currently ranked eighth in New England, the Owl women enter the race a little hobbled. Two of their front runners, junior Rita Marcotte (Heath, Mass.) and sophomore Amy Knoblock (Plymouth, Mass.), are nursing minor injuries following last week’s race, and sophomore Nicole Slane (Milford, N.H.) and freshman Paige Mills will not compete.

Freshmen Heather Pierce (Keene, N.H.), Andrea Walsh (Bolton, Conn.), and Natalie Ferro (Dennis, Mass.) have stepped up to fill the void. Pierce, KSC’s top finisher at Saratoga, was named LEC women’s Runner of the Week and has been recognized three times as the conference’s top rookie.

Although the Keene State women are expected to handily win the team title, Southern Maine’s Gabby Cyr, a four-time LEC Runner of the Week, and Kerry Arouca, who led Westfield State to the MASCAC championship last week, will be in the running for individual honors. “We don’t have someone like Jenn Adams, so we have to run as a pack,” said Marcotte. “The LEC championship is a big deal for us. We take a lot of pride being the top team in the conference and don’t want to give up that honor.”

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