The 2011 Elms College cross country teams are looking to make significant strides under eighth-year head coach Amy Lane whose teams are looking both faster and stronger heading into the season. After diligent summer training, both teams are focused and ready to build off a successful 2010 season.
During the 2010 campaign, the Blazers' men's team crossed the finish line third at the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Championship meet recording their best team finish of the year and highest ever conference championship finish. Sophomore Jesse Zina (Ludlow, Mass.) clocked a collegiate personal best time of 31:38 in the 8-kilometer race to place 10th overall and earned Second Team All-NECC honors. Zina, who sprinted to a time of 31:58 at the Western New England (WNE) Invitational earlier in the season, is listed fourth and eighth on Elms' top 10 records list (for any 8-kilometer course) for those two respective performances. Zina is also ranked fifth on the program's Elms course school record list as he registered a time of 34:53 at the Blazers Invitational.
Senior Benjamin Kronlund (Longmeadow, Mass.), and freshman Jessie Murray (Springfield, Mass.) will add depth to a small but talented squad and will vie for the top spots on the team.
Senior Michael Desmond (Nashua, N.H.) and sophomore John Southworth (Springfield, Mass.) will complete Elms' varsity roster and continue to serve as an inspiration to their teammates both on and off the trails.
On the women's side, depth and competitiveness will be the driving force behind an effort to build upon its fifth place finish at the NECC Championship meet last season.
Freshman Rachel Lehouillier (Belchertown, Mass.) will look to make an immediate impact and fill the void left by Alycia Dabrowski '11. Through the first week of preseason, Lehouillier looks to be Elms' top runner.
Seniors Jennifer Cicero (Chicopee, Mass.), Becka Boisseau (Chicopee, Mass.) and Chantal Wakefield (East Longmeadow, Mass.) will lead a stellar group of returners that will be in the hunt for a top five spot.
Cicero crossed the line first for Elms in each of the team's first three meets of the 2010 season and clocked a season-best time of 25:30 at the James Earley Invitational hosted by Westfield State University.
The cross country schedule includes meets against many of the best Division III teams in New England and New York. The Blazers conclude each season with three championships — the NECC Championship, the ECAC Division III Championship, and the NCAA Division III New England Qualifier.
The Blazers will continue to host the Blazers Invitational at Chicopee Memorial State Park. This site provides soft surfaced trails for optimized training, and also serves as the home practice and competition site for the two teams throughout the season.
With a greater emphasis on offseason conditioning and training, the cross country teams enter the 2011 season poised to make significant climbs through the NECC ranks as they work towards bringing home a conference championship.