Aug. 12, 1997

1997 Men's Cross Country Outlook

Last year, Head Coach Ray Treacy's men's cross country team proved to be one of the surprise squads in the league as the Friars captured their league leading 12th BIG EAST title. Although the team lost talented runners Mike Donnelly, David Healy, Nick Kent, and Steve Myers to graduation, Treacy believes the 1997 Friars could be one of his strongest teams in recent years. With a healthy squad, Providence should challenge for the BIG EAST title.

On the track, Treacy has set goals for his team to improve on last year's outdoor performances and strive for consistency through the indoor and outdoor seasons. The Friars recorded one of their top track performances ever when the team placed second at the 1997 New England Indoor Championship. Although the team lost two-time track All-American Mike Donnelly, the Friars should be strong in 3,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 3,000-meter steeplechase.

As the Friars begin the quest for their third consecutive BIG EAST Cross Country title, junior Ben Noad (Bristol, England) will be called upon to lead the squad. Noad, one of the team's top runners, is the only member of the team to score the last two years at the BIG EAST Championship. As a freshman, he was PC's fourth scorer at the BIG EAST, IC4A and NCAA cross country championships. Last year, he placed eighth overall (24:21) and helped the squad capture its 18th New England Championship. Noad also was instrumental in the team's 1996 BIG EAST title as he ran his best race of the season, finishing ninth overall in a time of 24:07. He will try to avoid injuries that have plagued him during his freshman and sophomore track seasons. Noad could be a factor for the Friars in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters.

Senior Paul McNamara (Galway, Ireland) will battle for one of the top spots on the cross country team. McNamara is the most improved athlete on the team. He showed strong potential during the outdoor track seasons as he ran personal best times in the 1,500 (3:51.50), 5,000 (14:23.22) and the 10,000 meters (30:16.42). Head Coach Ray Treacy believes with continual improvement McNamara can be a tremendous asset to the cross country and track teams. Last season, he enjoyed success in cross country as he scored in all six of the races he ran, including the New England, BIG EAST, IC4A and NCAA championships. He posted his top cross country time at the BIG EAST Championship, finishing 20th overall (24:29).

Also challenging for one of the team's top spot will be sophomore Keith Kelly (Drogheda, Ireland). Kelly, who missed his freshman cross country season with an injury, made significant improvement during the indoor and outdoor track seasons. He recorded one of his top performances at the New England Indoor Track Championship. Kelly placed third in the 5,000 meters (14:50.95) and helped the team earn its highest finish ever at the New Englands. He recorded a personal best time of 14:24.72 in the 5,000 at the Raleigh Relays. In addition to being strong in the 5,000, Kelly also was impressive in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters. His contributions will be integral to the team's success in cross country and track.

Junior Zack Ventress (Spokane, Wash.) will be another scoring member of the cross country team. Ventress is a very reliable runner who produces results. He scored in four of the five cross country races he ran last season. Ventress was PC's fourth finisher (106th overall) at the NCAA Cross Country Championship. He also scored at the Roy Griak Invitational (38th, 25:22) and the New England Championship (ninth, 24:24). On the track last year, Ventress had a productive indoor season before sustaining an injury which hampered him during the outdoor season. He registered one of his top races with a fifth-place finish in the 5,000 (14:38.84) at the 1997 IC4A Indoor Championship.

Sophomore Larry Morrissey and juniors Rick Bush (Clifton Park, N.Y.) and Carl Mauro (Hornell, N.Y.) round out PC's top returning runners. Morrissey showed potential last season after capturing the New England Junior Varsity Cross Country title. He should be ready to help at the varsity level. He also showed promise during the indoor and outdoor track season in the 1,000 meters and the mile. Morrissey earned All-New England honors after finishing second in the 1,000 meters (2:26.74) at the 1997 New England Indoor Championship. Bush, who transferred to PC from Mt. St. Mary's, made progress in his first cross country season as a Friar. He led PC to a second-place finish at the Central Connecticut Cross Country Invitational by finishing second in a time of 27:44. Bush also recorded strong finishes in the 3,000 meters, the mile and the steeplechase. He should help the team in the steeplechase at the BIG EAST and IC4A Championship. Mauro is expected to be a factor this year. He has the ability to score in cross country. He had a strong year in track as a freshman and will look to regain his form. He has the potential to be an NCAA qualifier in the 3,000 meters.

Joining the team this season is freshman Ciaran Lynch (Limerick, Ireland). Lynch joins the long list of talented distance runners from Ireland to train under the tutelage of Ray Treacy at Providence College. Lynch will compete for a spot on the cross country team and add depth on the track. He comes to Providence after winning several titles in Ireland. Lynch captured the 1996 Irish Under-18 Cross Country Championship, the 1996 Irish Under-18 3,000 Meter Steeplechase title and the Irish Schools' 2,000 Meter Steeplechase Championship.

The Friars again should be one of the top cross country teams in New England and the BIG EAST. Although the squad could face stiff competition in the conference from Georgetown and West Virginia, the Friars will be poised to challenge for their 13th BIG EAST title and make their third consecutive appearance at the NCAA Championship. On the track, PC has several runners that could capture BIG EAST titles and vie for All-America accolades. In addition, the team will be striving for consistency and trying to build on its strong performance at the 1997 New England Indoor Championship.

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