The women's cross country team at UMass-Dartmouth Invitational on Sept. 20. The women's team placed in last place.

The women’s cross country team at UMass-Dartmouth Invitational on Sept. 20. The women’s team landed in last place.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams, totaling 20 runners, kicked off the season with a race at Massachusetts Maritime Academy on Sept. 6.

Junior Jill Russell (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.) led the women’s team with an 18th place finish, running the 5K in 25:07. Senior Emily Ansel (Lititz, Pa.) also posted an impressive time during the first race, completing in 25:51.

The men’s team was led by sophomore Gregory Whitney (Henniker, N.H.) who earned 8th place overall and ran the 5-mile race in 30:33. Sophomore Hunter Hill (North Wales, Pa.) clocked in with 32:37 at 14th place. The men’s team took 5th place in the Invitational.

Senior Dan Cantrell (Strasburg, Va.) has high hopes for the men’s team this year.

“This year I think we have 11 guys as of now, so that is a huge help,” Cantrell remarked.

Last year, the men’s team had nine runners, not all running regularly.

“The other thing that’s really cool is we have some fast new guys, and all of our returning guys are better than last year. At our first meet, all of the returning guys got new PR’s [personal records],” Cantrell said.

The teams then competed on Sept. 20 in the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational.

The women were again paced by Russell who led the Lions with a time of 23:58, with four other members completing the race.

Junior Christina Saint-Pierre (Lantana, Fla.), who competed in the UMass-Dartmouth Invitational as her first race, commented on the differences between the races.

“The first meet was all flat ground. It was a road race, [so] we really didn’t have to run through the woods or on the hills, so the runners definitely did run a lot quicker,” Saint-Pierre said.

“This second race on the other hand was a lot tougher. We had to run through woods then push through tree branches, while also going up and down mini sets of hills,” Saint-Pierre said, “It was definitely a tough race.”

Whitney led the men’s team, running the team to 33rd place, with his four competing teammates finishing shortly after.

The men’s team took 10th place out of 13 competing teams at Gordon Pop Cromwell Invitational this past Saturday while the women placed in 12th.

The cross country team competes next in the Westfield State Invitational on Oct. 11.