1997 Season Outlook
Led by four top returning performers and solidified by three elite recruits, the 1997 men's cross country team looks to be a solid contender for the nationals after falling short last season.
Brian Shafer, a junior from Litchfield, CT., has developed a storied career at Boston College so far and should guide the squad to many victories this season. He finished second at the New England Championships last season and 15th at the BIG EAST.
"He has a great chance to be a BIG EAST Champion, a New England Champion and head to the NCAAs," said head coach Randy Thomas who begins his 11th season at the Heights.
Backing Shafer is sophomore Marshall Armitage who has fully recovered from a stress fracture to the femur which plagued him last season. Despite his injury, Armitage was consistently one of the top finishers for Boston College in numerous meets. He was the third BC runner to cross the finish line at the IC4As and at the BIG EAST Championship and the fourth-best BC runner at the Roy Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota. Armitage hails from Burlington, Ontario where he was a three-time OFSAA medalist and a member of the 1996 national junior cross country team.
Sophomore Derek Holland is another national champion from Toronto, Ontario, and is among the team's top returning runners. In his first collegiate meet at the University of New Hampshire on Sept. 13, Holland was the top BC finisher and placed third overall. He swiftly became part of Boston College's core of choice runners and should excel in the coming years.
Andrew Knight fromm Franklin Lakes, N.J., is another sophomore who made an immediate impact as a freshman. He is coming off a personal best track season running a 8:38 in the 3,000 meter.
It will be hard to top last year's stellar freshman class, but Thomas may have succeeded. Assembling a select body of recruits from the Massachusetts area and Canada, Thomas believes these freshman will perform at the same level, if not better, than last year's group.
Justin Burdon from Niagra Falls, Ontario, has amassed a lot of experience in his few years of competitive running. His most recent accomplishment was at the Penn Relays in April where he finished fourth in the 3000 meter with a time of 8:32.
Massachusetts natives Derek Smith (Northfield) and Paul Abbiuzzese (Hopedale) are just as accomplished as Burdon.
Smith finished his high school career as the New England Prep School Cross Country Champion and was also a Footlocker finalist his junior and senior years at Northfield Mt. Herman. Abbiuzzese finished 15th at the Footlocker Regional Cross Country meet and was the Massachesetts State Cross Country Champion last season. Along with Burdon, the presence of these two high school stand-outs should be felt immediately.
"They are a talented and young team that will return experienced the following year and build our future," said Thomas. "They have a great opportunity to finish within the Top 2 of our region and qualify for the NCAA Championship.
"They have the talent to get there," he added. "If they are fully committed and focused, their talent will take over and get the job done."