Cross Country Hoists Two First Place Finishers

Ryan Jones, Sports Editor

To preface the ever important Northeast Conference Championships, the Central Connecticut Cross Country team hosted its 17th annual Mini Meet at their home course, which will host the playoff races. Both the men’s and women’s teams had first place finishes.

The women’s side put together a strong showing at Stanley Quarter Park, with Angie Rafter getting another first place finish in the 3K. The junior’s 9:51.5 finish was the second time that Rafter has finished first this season, landing first place at Central’s other home meet, the Ted Owen Invitational. Rafter’s finish was a personal best in the 3K, surpassing her former mark by more than 20 seconds.

For her performance, Rafter earned NEC athlete of the week. It’s the second time Rafter has taken home the weekly award this season. She beat the next best finisher by more than two seconds.

Following Rafter was classmate Megan Brawner, who finished fifth with a time of 10:09.2. The junior duo has paved the way for the women’s team this season. Both names can often be seen in tandem when they’ve raced together this year.

Like Rafter, sophomore Ashley Dana finished with a personal best in the 3K, crossing the finish line 11th with a time of 10:25.2.

The women’s side finished second among the 16 teams running Saturday. CCSU improved on their fourth place finish in last year’s Mini Meet.

The men’s side likewise had a familiar face finishing first in their 5K race. Roberto Piotto finished in first place with a 14:51.2 finish. Like Rafter, Piotto’s finish was the second time he’s come in first this season, with Piotto’s coming in the Marist Invitational.

Following behind the senior was freshman Elias Field, who finished 17th with a 15:18.5 finish.

Four places behind Field was classmate Eddie Nicholas, clocking in with a 15:23.2 time good for 21st.

The men’s team finished fifth among the field of 13 schools competing on the day. The Blue Devils likewise finished fifth in last year’s Mini Meet.

Head coach Eric Blake returned to coaching after doing some running of his own this past week. Blake joined the United States Track and Field Team at the 16th annual NACAC Mountain Running Championship. The men’s team finished with a silver medal on the day.

The Blue Devils will be hosting the aforementioned NEC Championship this Saturday at 11 a.m. Last year was the first time in nine years that the men’s side had not come in first in the NEC Championship. The women’s team is looking to repeat on their NEC Championship win last year.