By Anna Poulter-Hendrickson
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The Holy Cross men's track and field team is looking to go the distance in the 2009-2010 indoor season, as it returns 20 from last year's squad and welcomes 15 newcomers to the track. Head coach Jim Kavanagh is looking to the distance runners to lead the team and improve on last year's team performance at the Patriot League Indoor Championship. "We lost a lot last year, but a place that we will be just as strong will be the distance events," said Kavanagh. The strength in those distance events comes from captains Kyle Rougeot (Torrington, Conn.) and Tim Richard (Attleboro, Mass.). Rougeot is looking to return to the track after an injury withheld him from the cross country season, while Richard is hoping to transition a successful cross country season on to the track.
Joining Richard and Rougeot will be fellow captain Chase Kennedy (Marblehead, Mass.). Kennedy will lead the team in the sprint events, while Richard and Rougeot take care of the distance events. "The strength of leadership in distance comes from Rougeot and Richard," said Kavanagh. "They lead by example, are hard core individuals who are not afraid of putting in heavy mileage." Kavanagh is going to rely on his captains to take the team the distance.
Kennedy and junior Richard Waldmann (Stony Brook, N.Y.) will team up to lead Holy Cross in the sprint events. Last season, Kennedy recorded a time of 23.70 seconds in the 200 at the Reebok Indoor Games, while Waldmann missed the 2008-2009 season with an injury and looks to return with a great season on the track. Rookie Mario Alvarez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico), along with fellow newcomers Nicholas Foster (Trumbull, Conn.) and Charlie Cunningham (Reading, Mass.) will provide speed in the short events. Senior A.J. Malloy (Dunbarton, N.H.) will provide the backup needed for Holy Cross to have success in the short sprint events, as last season he finished with a personal-best time of 7.11 seconds in the 55 meter dash at Maine.
Kennedy and Waldmann will really hit their stride in the long sprint events for Holy Cross. Kennedy will lead the team in the 400 and together with Waldman and junior Connor LeClair (Hyde Park, Vt.), look to anchor a tough 4x400 meter relay team. With the fourth spot on the relay team still open, Kavanagh is looking to newcomer Kevin Wall (Winchester, Mass.) to step up his performance and fill the role. Last year's 4x400 relay team had its best performance at the Boston University Valentine Invitational with a time of 3:25.16, a time that is obtainable by this year's squad.
Kavanagh will pull from the strength of the cross country team to lead the Crusaders in the mid distance events. Leading the pack will be sophomores Ben Brink (New Rochelle, N.Y.) and Stephen Madsen (New Providence, N.J.). "Ben and Stephen put in exceptional mileage this summer and came into the cross country season as strong as they have ever been," said Kavanagh. "With Ben and Stephen, we are looking at strong 4x800 meter relay team." Newcomers Dylan Leazes (Providence, R.I.), Kevin Turner (Charlton, Mass.) and Chris Schaller (Brooklyn, N.Y.) will add to the strength in the mid distance events and fight for a spot on the 4x800 relay team.
The strength of Kavanagh's squad lies in the distance events. Richard and Rougeot will lead the core of the team, while sophomores Cory Loftis (Branford, Conn.) and Dan Altenau (Eastchester, N.Y.) will add to the strength. Loftis will take to the track after a strong freshman campaign where he finished ninth in the 5,000 at the Patriot League Indoor Championship with a time of 15:26.90, while Altenau returns after recording a season-best time of 4:47.52 in the one mile at the Reebok Indoor Games. Rookies Leazes and Kyle Shepard (White Plains, N.Y.) are fresh off a strong freshman season on the cross country course and will look to make the transition to the distance events on the track.
Rookie John Veltri (West Milford, N.J.) joins the team and coach Kavanagh is looking for him to make an immediate impact in the hurdle events. Veltri joins the team as a dedicated hurdler, as he will compete in the high hurdles during the indoor season for Holy Cross. Providing Veltri with support in the hurdle events will be junior multi competitor Gregory Liguori (Norwood, N.J.). Liguori's primary focus will be in the multi-events, but his versatility will allow him to compete in the hurdle events. Sophomore Michael Millard (Manhasset, N.Y.) will begin testing himself in a variety of events in hopes of competing in the multi-events in future years.
Millard and Liguori return to lead Holy Cross in the vertical jumps, while sophomores Alex Martin (Sutton, Mass.) and Henry Bradford (West Bridgewater, Mass.) will lead the Crusaders in the horizontal jumps. Millard returns as the top pole vaulter for Holy Cross and coach Kavanagh looks for him to reach 14 feet. Liguori will return to lead the Crusaders in the high jump, with his sights set on clearing 6'4". Martin will lead the team in the long jump and triple jump, while Martin, a javelin thrower in the outdoor season, will add depth in the long jump.
Weakened by graduation, Holy Cross looks to regain its competitive edge in the throwing events with the return of senior Nicholas LeBlanc (New Bedford, Mass.) and sophomore Kenneth McKenna (Ossining, N.Y.) and the addition of junior Tim Paquette (Malden, Mass.). LeBlanc returns as the top Crusader in the shot put event, as he reached a season-best indoor distance of 14.36 meters at UNH, while McKenna recorded a personal-best distance of 13.71 meters at the same meet. Together the teammates will also push each other in the weight throw, with McKenna recording a distance of 14.02 meters at Boston University and LeBlanc looking to improve and add much needed depth. Paquette will help add to Holy Cross' strength in the throwing events.
Holy Cross will compete at the Alden Invitational on Dec. 5 and at the Harvard Open on Dec. 12 before competing in the Boston University Mini Series over winter break (Dec. 19, Dec. 26 and Jan. 2). The Crusaders will continue competition over winter break with meets at the Metropolitan Coaches Collegiate Invitational (Jan. 8), the Yale Invitational (Jan. 9) and at New Hampshire (Jan. 16).
After returning to class on Jan. 20, Holy Cross will continue competition at the Boston Indoor Games (Jan. 29) and at the Terrier Invitational (Jan. 30). The team will compete at the Maine Open on Feb. 5-6 and wrap up the regular season at the Valentine Invitational on Feb. 13.
Holy Cross will kick off the championship portion of the schedule at the Patriot League Championship on Feb. 19-21 in West Point, N.Y. The Crusaders will compete at the New England Championship on Feb. 26-27 and qualifying members of the team will compete at the IC4A Championship on March 6-7 in Boston, Mass.