The University of Vermont’s men and women’s cross-country team started their season strong with nine top-10 finishes in the first two meets.
The Catamounts began their season Sept. 7 at the America East Pre-Conference Meet in Vestal, New York at Binghamton University.
The women took second at the meet scoring 31 points. Senior captain Yolanda Ngarambe started a train of UVM top-placers in the women’s 5K coming in second with a time of 18:27.4.
Sophomores Nikki Braceras and Alicia Clark also claimed positions in the top ten placing fourth and sixth respectively. Clark proved this meet that she is top 10 worthy after missing a top 10 finish at the 2012 America Easter Conference by a half a second.
The men’s team also performed well at the pre-conference meet scoring 89 points and taking third overall.
Captain Aaron Szotka led the Catamounts in the 8K placing eighth overall with a time of 25:49.1. Szotka earned All-Conference honors as a sophomore in the 2011 season.
Sophomores Dan Moroney, Erik Buser, and Fletcher Hazlehurst came in shortly after snagging places 20, 21, and 22 overall.
Albany, UMass Lowell, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County also competed in this conference meet.
The America East Pre-Conference meet marked only the beginning of the promising season ahead of this UVM program.
Both teams came out strong again Sept. 14 at the UMass Invitational in Amherst, Massachusetts with a different cast of characters taking UVM’s leading spots. The women placed third overall in this meet scoring 61 points while the men placed fifth scoring 90 points.
Senior captain Kristen Weberg took first for the Cats with a time of 17:49.10 and placed seventh overall. Ngarambe followed close behind snatching eighth place. Clark rounded out UVM’s top three placing 11th overall at the meet.
The sophomores on the men’s team dominated UVM’s top placers. Moroney led the way with a time of 19:33.52. Moroney finished sixth overall marking a new collegiate personal record for the athlete. Right behind Moroney was his fellow sophomore captain Hazlehurst who took eighth place. Senior captain Szotka came in third of UVM and 23rd overall.
In the 2012 season both the women and men’s teams finished strong. The women placed third overall at the America East Championships scoring 66 points while the men placed seventh with 149 points.
This year both teams came to preseason ready to compete with the hope to out-do their best performances from last season and break their personnel records.
“Really all the upperclassmen have stepped it up this year with the leadership.” Senior Captain Kristen Weberg described, “All of our seniors are really good leaders, both by example and vocally.”
This will be returning NCAA All-Conference Weberg’s third year in a row as co-captain for the Catamounts. Other captains for the women are Yoland Ngarambe and Valerie Moyer.
The men’s team also has a veteran captain this year. This will be senior Aaron Szotka’s second year with the title and he is ready to compete. “I’ve worked harder than I ever have in the past. No doubt about it.”
Other co-captains for the men include Dan Moroney and Fletcher Hazlehurst. “Dan Moroney and Thomas O’Leary lead a pack of outstanding sophomores who should help us move up the conference standings on the men’s side this November.” Head coach Matt Belfield commented.
“I’d say as a team culture we are more positioned for success than we have been in my previous three seasons,” Szotka added.
The cross country team has a three week break before they compete again. They will next run on Oct.5 atthe Paul Short Invitation in Bethlehem, PA.