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Annual Cross Country Invitational This Saturday

KEENE, N.H., 9/30/08 - Keene State College men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete in their second of three home meets this season when they host the 15th Annual KSC Invitational at the Owl Athletic Complex on Saturday. The women’s race begins at 11 a.m., followed by the men’s competition at 11:45 a.m.

Saturday’s race won’t be a walk in the park for the Owls. Longtime KSC Coach Peter Thomas has assembled a large and competitive field to challenge his runners. “It’s going to be a quality meet,” he said. “Both teams will have to turn in strong performances in order to defend their championships.”

Twelve men’s and women’s teams are scheduled to be at the starting line on Saturday. The men’s field includes four teams ranked in this week’s regional poll: Amherst College (#2), Keene State (#3), Southern Maine (#5), and MIT (#9). “Amherst is ranked ahead of us, so they’re the team to beat,” said Thomas. “But we’re running on our home course, and that might level things out a bit.” Thomas also expects MIT, Dartmouth (B-team), UMass-Lowell, and Southern Maine to be in the hunt for the team title.

Currently ranked 12th nationally, the KSC men will be led by senior Jared Samuel (Londonderry, N.H.), the junior duo of Jeff Trethewey (Merrimack, N.H.) and Eric MacKnight (Newton, Conn.), and sophomore Corey Loonan (Sandwich, Mass.).

The Owls are returning to the trails after capturing the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational championship two weeks ago.

Handicapping the women’s field, Thomas gives the nod to second-ranked MIT. “They’re sitting out a few of their top runners, but they’re an extremely deep team,” he said.

The seventh-ranked Lord Jeffs women of Amherst will also make their presence felt. “They are currently ranked behind us, and I’m sure they’d like to knock us off,” said Thomas.

An improving KSC women’s team, ranked 26th nationally and fifth in this week’s New England poll, features a lead pack that includes senior Rita Marcotte (Heath, Mass.), junior Allison Chamberlain (Scarborough, Me.), and sophomore Andrea Walsh (Bolton, Conn.).

The Owls won’t be at full strength for the race. Sophomore Paige Mills (Keene, N.H.), KSC’s top runner at the alumni and UMD meets earlier this season, is out due to an illness, and Marcotte and Walsh are just back after being under the weather.

The last time out of the gate, the Owls finished third at the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational. Both Keene State teams have done well on their home turf. The Owl men have won 10 out of the last 11 meets.

The Owl women have claimed the KSC Invitational title the past three years.

Keene State will also host the Little East Alliance championship on Saturday, Oct. 31.

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