Over the course of their first three years here at Fairfield, the senior class for the women’s cross country team had won just two meets.
This year, they have already doubled that win total, picking up their second win of the season this past Saturday at their last home meet of their college career, the Fr. Victor F. Leeber, S.J Invitational.
“We’ve never won the Leeber Invite, and we were really happy about that,” said Juli Bassett ’14. “We always wanted to beat Sacred Heart, their girls’ team is really good. All week our coach was saying that we could beat them.”
The girls’ team finished with 28 points, edging out cross-town rival Sacred Heart by eight. Junior Maureen Crimmins had the best finish for the Stags, finishing third overall in the event with a time of 19:21.40. Fellow junior Cate Forte finished just behind Crimmins in fourth place with a time of 19:26. Three other Stags finished in the top ten overall, including Stef Vickers ’17, Jacqueline-Ann Willsey ’17, and Danielle Renzi ’15.
“The kids did well. It was a milestone to beat Sacred Heart,” said Head Coach John Sagnelli. “ … We’re very happy, we had some very good performances by some of our young people.”
The men’s team turned an already successful Saturday afternoon into an even better one, as they finished first in their meet, too. In what was their final home meet as well, seniors Howie Rosas, Brian Cleary and John Lobo helped lead the charge for Fairfield, each securing a top ten finish. Junior Connor Kelley ended with a top five finish as well, clocking a time of 26:32.77, and Sam Daly ’17 finished eighth in his collegiate debut.
“I couldn’t believe it was our last home meet, we were really happy about [the win],” said Bassett, “the seniors were really excited.”
Both teams winning on Saturday was almost an added bonus, as they could already hold their heads high knowing the good they did for cancer awareness. Both teams combined to raise money for Get Your Rear in Gear, a colon cancer awareness coalition that works to promote prevention and early detection of colon cancer, and also works with people affected by the disease.
“A lot of people don’t know that it’s very preventable,” said Bassett about the disease. “You can get screened and find out years before if you have something that could develop into a tumor.”
The color for colon and prostate cancer awareness is blue, and the women’s team wore blue uniforms during their meet, while the men wore blue socks.
The project, which was started and managed by captain Molly Leidig ’14, raised money for breast cancer awareness and research with Susan G. Komen for the Cure last year during the Leeber Invitational.
“Our kids overall are very in tune to community service,” said Sagnelli. “We don’t talk about it a lot, because our kids look at it as community service is something you want to do, you don’t have to get recognized for it.”
This year Leidig, whom Coach Sagnelli called “probably one of the best captains I’ve ever had,” decided to work with colon cancer awareness in part because it had affected members of the team directly, including Bassett.
“My mom got diagnosed with [colon cancer] in March, so over the summer Molly texted me asking what I thought [about running for colon cancer awareness], and I thought it would be really a cool thing to do,” said Bassett.
Bassett said that there are others on the team who also have relatives who have battled cancer, and she hopes that the teams continue to run for a cause in future years.
“I hope they do. Molly is the one who organizes it, but I’m sure they’ll want to do it too. We really like doing it because it’s pretty inspiring to do. And it’s fun to raise all the money,” said Bassett.