BRUNSWICK, Maine – Paced by sophomores John Walker (Westerly, RI) and Ryan Escoda (Newtown), the Eastern Connecticut State University men's cross country team made history with its highest finish in a field of at least 50 teams at the New England Division III Championships Saturday at Bowdoin College.
Thirty-third in a field of 58 teams a year ago, Eastern cut that in half with a 17th-place finish among 54 teams Saturday as the second-best scoring team among eight teams from the Little East Conference.
Over 8,000 meters, Walker led Eastern at the finish for the first time in his two-year career, placing among the top 25 percent of 384 runners, with Escoda crossing the line within the top 30 percent. Walker scored 89 points with a 90th-place overall finish in a time of 26:39, with Escoda totaling 103 points by placing 104th overall in a time of 26:48.
Following the Eastern leaders closely were first-year sophomore runner Tyler Wright (Westport) and junior co-captain Maxwell Chace (Brooklyn), with sophomore Jorich Swift (Mansfield) filling in as the team's fifth scorer. Wright scored 128 points (130th overall), Chace 136 (138th overall) and Swift 155 points (160th overall). Wright was timed in 27:09, Chace 27:16 and Swift 27:42. Providing displacement support and rounding out the team's seven runners were freshman Cory Bill (Mansfield) and junior Cameron Gonzales (Plainfield). Bill was 198th overall (28:14), Gonzales 242nd (28:53).
Little East champion University of Southern Maine was the only conference team ahead of Eastern Saturday, placing 13th overall. Eastern placed fourth in the LEC Championships two weeks ago but Saturday bested two teams which placed ahead of it: UMass Dartmouth and Plymouth State University. UMD was 20th overall and Plymouth 21st in Saturday's meet.