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Cross country takes off running for new season

The coming season is an especially exciting one for Brandeis’ cross country teams since this is the first time that both the men and women have a chance to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships together. In the past both teams have made it, but they have not made it together since 1992. Head Coach Sinead Delahunty Evans and Assistant Coach Steve Flanagan are here to hopefully lead the team to victory.

In the winter of 2013, Evans was named interim head coach for the Judge’s cross country and track and field, and in the Spring of 2014, the interim tag was removed. She had spent the previous two years as a full-time assistant working with distance and middle-distance runners.
At Providence College, from which Evans graduated in 1993, she was a six-time All-American. She competed for Ireland in four World Championships and in the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics in the 1,500 meters.

In August 2015, Assistant Coach Steve Flanagan joined the Judges after two years as a graduate assistant coach at Division I Providence College, where he also earned his M.B.A in Management in May 2015. Flanagan earned his B.S in mathematics from Fairfield University in 2012. During his undergrad years, he was selected as team captain as a sophomore and was a three-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference All-Academic selection. In his senior year, Flanagan helped Fairfield to its best-ever finish at the ICA4 Championships.

Flanagan said in an email to The Brandeis Hoot that some of his proudest moments as a coach coincide with last year’s highlights for the team. Some of these highlights include when Emily Bryson ’19 won both the UAA Cross Country Champion by less than a second and the 5,000 meters at Outdoor UAAs and when Ryan Stender ’18 won the 300 meters at the Indoor UAA Championship. Both athletes qualified for the Indoor NCAA Championships, which Flanagan describes as a fun and exciting meet at Washington University in St. Louis. “Stender and Mitch Hutton ran flawlessly in the 500 m and went 3-4. Plus, Kelsey Whitaker who graduated last year was second in the 1500 m.”

Flanagan is excited for this coming season because of the chance for both the men and women to qualify together for the NCAA Cross Country Championship. He considers key runners to watch this season to be the aforementioned Bryson and Stender, but ultimately believes the team needs a lot of depth in success which will come from great senior leadership. On the men’s side that includes Quinton Hoey ’17, Matt Doran ’17 and Brad Payne ’17. For the women, he says that leadership will come from Maddie Dolins ’17, Kate Farrell ’17 and Ashley Piccirillo-Horan ’17.

Overall Flanagan has an optimistic view for the upcoming season and the team dynamic, stating: “Cross country is so unpredictable because the races are so long and the training is difficult … so there is opportunity for a lot to happen—good and bad. The team atmosphere is everything a coaching staff could want: It’s tight-knit and loving, and the student-athletes are both diligent and hardworking. We’re confident a lot of good will come out of this year!”

The men and women’s cross country team will begin Saturday, Sept. 3 at the Roger Williams Invitational.

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