NEW LONDON, Conn.-The Coast Guard men's cross country team held strong against a field that included some strong regionally ranked team at the Connecticut College Invitational at Harkness Memorial Park on Saturday. Included in the field were Vassar (#6 – Atlantic Region), Connecticut College (#9 – New England Region), Keene State (#10 – New England Region), and Division II Southern Connecticut State.
The 8K course was mostly flat with some slight elevation changes and is well-known for producing fast times. The weather was ideal and with some great competition, the Bears were able to capitalize and produce quality marks en route to a second place finish with 77 points, just three behind meet-winner Keene State.
Leading the team was senior captain Gary Ezzo, finishing as the overall runner-up covering the 8K course with a career-best performance of 25:14. Behind Ezzo was freshman Zach Velasquez whom also posted a collegiate-best time of 25:32 as the top freshman (sixth overall) out of a field of 247 runners.
Third among Coast Guard finishers was junior Stephen Horvath (21st, 26:12) who made a big move up in the ranks and ran a big, personal best on the way. Next in scoring position was senior Brad Pienta (23rd, 26:19) who dropped nearly 40 seconds off his all-time best. Junior Jonathan Lash was the fifth runner to cross the line for the Bears, finishing 25th while running the course in 26:21.
"This was a good day for our team across the board. Our top seven runners had great races, but I would even extent that on to the rest of the team. We've been working hard and we're starting to turn the corner as we get ready for championship season," said head coach Ethan Brown.
Coast Guard will return to action on Sunday, November 3rd when they travel to Franklin Park in Boston, Mass. for the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championships.