The University of Oregon will make their first ever visit to Boston’s Franklin Park on September 27th, ushering cross country back to the hallowed grounds after a year hiatus, for the Boston College invite. Former Massachusetts standout and Stanford graduate Andrew Powell enters his ninth year in the coaching ranks as the Associate Head Coach for the Oregon Cross Country team.
As a Massachusetts’s prep Andy ran to a state record of 4:02 in the mile at Oliver Ames, leading to a successful career at Stanford. While at Stanford, Andy was teammates with future wife (Franklin, MA native and six-time state track champion) Maurica Carlucci, who is currently the assistant coach for the Women Duck’s.
Having such a high quality meet this early in the season should prove to be a special allure to Boston cross country fans. Boston College assistant coach Julie Heyde was able to confirm that the women’s side will have four top twenty-five teams in Oregon (3rd), Providence (1st), Cornell (10th) and Boston College (25th). The Men’s side will showcase perennial power-houses Wisconsin (coached by Providence College grad and long-time Iona Coach Mick Byrne), Oregon and Providence. “The meet was Randy’s (Thomas) idea, who reached out to Oregon and Ray Treacy from Providence who then reached out to Mick Byrne” according to Heyde. “ There will be unlimited entry for runners, but we are trying to keep it to a maximum of thirteen to fourteen teams.”
The Powell’s certainly have their hands full leading one of the marquee athletic programs in the country. Each year begins with the hope of a National Championship (to go along with his victories in 2007 & 2008). This season Oregon’s cross country team is again stacked with forty-three distance athletes on its mixed cross country roster, including former high school All Americans and national champions.
Coming up through the ranks at Stanford and Oregon, Andy has had some great mentors in Vin Lananna and Alberto Salazar, and he has undoubtedly used their influence in his success in coaching. As a result of this success at Oregon, and of being in charge of the everyday training and racing for so many athletes (as well as recruiting), Andy unfortunately has had to drop some extracurricular activities. On the chopping block: coaching athletes post-collegiately, where he had some huge success with athletes such as Matthew Centrowitz and Luke Puskedra.
Currently ranked 12th (men’s) and 3rd (women’s) in the 2013 pre-season poll, even the most casual cross country fan will tell you, Oregon attracts the cream of the crop from high school runners. One would expect a high-pressure program in Eugene, but Coach Powell was adamant about keeping it light and fun while performing at the highest level. According to Powell, “our first priority is to always win outdoor track, and build on the rest from there.” The trip across country to Boston will be in this spirit as an early season meet, to have some fun, but also see where they are from last years 20th place finish at Nationals. “I do not pay much attention to pre-season poll’s, but the trip will be a good experience for the New England athletes.” This year’s team should have around six or seven strong athletes vying for a varsity spot.”
On top of serving as an early rust-buster, the trip to Boston should serve as a home-coming for a number of New England Athletes on the Oregon roster. A late addition to the Oregon squad was surprise Northeastern transfer and New Hamsphire native Eric Jenkins, who sports a 13:18 5K P.R. and should contend for a top-ten spot at Nationals. Beyond the New England roots of the Powell’s and Jenkins, the men’s team has three New Jersey runners in Jeremy Elkaim (Livingston), Brett Johnson (Ocean City) and two-time Foot Locker National Champion Ed Cheserek (the Blue Chip recruit of 2013 from Newark). On the women’s side, Sophomore Abbey Leonardi (Kennebunkport, Maine) and Megan Patrignelli (Monroe, N.Y.) will also make the trip to Boston after being contributors to last years National Championship team.
Friday September 27th should be a great day to cut out of work or school early to come and support the return of cross country in a big way to Franklin Park. The women will lead things off at 3:30 with the men following at 4:15. The Level Legion hopes to see you there.