Sept. 1, 2006
With the return of four of its top runners from last season's team, the 2006 Providence College men's cross country team is expected to contend for the BIG EAST title and finish in the top-10 at the NCAA's.
Last season, the Friars battled through injuries and illnesses, but the team is healthy and poised to return to the NCAA's.
"We should be better this year with a lot more depth," Head Coach Ray Treacy said.
The reason for the optimism stems from the presence of senior All-American Martin Fagan (Mullingar, Ireland). Fagan, who finished 16th at the 2005 NCAA Cross Country Championship, is a threat to win the NCAA title this season. He was PC's top finisher in all the races he competed, including the BIG EAST Championships, where he finished first overall, while breaking a 27-year course record at Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, N.Y. Fagan continued to perform well during the track seasons and earned All-America honors in the 10,000 meters.
Junior Max Smith (Dunedin, New Zealand) enjoyed an impressive season in 2005-06 and will be expected to continue to improve. Smith, who according to Treacy improved by leaps and bounds, competed in the NCAA's in cross country, indoor and outdoor track. He earned All-BIG EAST honors in cross country and qualified for the NCAA's with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regional.
Not far behind Smith is classmate Ahmed Haji (West Hartford, Conn.). Haji also qualified for the NCAA's in cross country as he recorded an eighth-place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regional and finished fifth at the BIG EAST Championships to garner All-BIG EAST honors. Haji also had some solid results during the outdoor track season.
Senior Nick Weidman (Sudbury, Mass.) is expected to be one of PC's top five runners after a strong season in 2005-06. Weidman finished 21st at the BIG EAST Championships and 49th at the NCAA Northeast Regionals.
Freshmen Tom Webb (Barrington, R.I.), Hayden McLaren (Christchurch, New Zealand) and Michael Anderson (Ajax, Ontario) will battle for the No. 5 spot and will provide more depth to the team. Webb, a graduate of Bishop Hendricken, won consecutive Rhode Island Cross Country titles and led the Hawks to the team title in 2005. He also captured the 2005 New England Interscholastic Championship. "Tom is one of the best long distance runners to come out of Rhode Island," Treacy said.
McLaren will make an immediate impact on the team. McLaren qualified for selection to the world junior championships in Beijing after running 3:47.61 in the 1,500 meters.
Anderson is another runner who also will make an immediate contribution. He is the top junior 3,000-meter runner in Canada and was selected to participate in the IAAF World Youth Championships.
Sophomore Richard Yeates (Dublin, Ireland) also will battle for one of the spots on the team. Yeates ran in two cross country meets as he dealt with injuries in his first season.
Treacy feels if his team stays healthy, there's a strong chance that it could win the BIG EAST Championship and compete to finish in the top-10 at the NCAA's. The Friars have experienced runners and welcome several freshmen, who are expected to make an impact on the team.