Maine residents Will Geoghegan of Brunswick and Henry Sterling of South Freeport and North Yarmouth Academy will lead the Dartmouth College men’s cross country team this Saturday at the NCAA Division I championships.
It’s quite an accomplishment, especially when you look at where the two were at the end of their freshman cross country seasons in 2010.
Geoghegan, a multi-time state champ at Brunswick High, was so frustrated by his own results and fed up with running in general that he quit the team for winter and spring track.
Sterling had just finished his first-ever season of cross country. At North Yarmouth Academy, the South Freeport resident had spent his autumns playing soccer.
Making the NCAA championships? First Geoghegan and Sterling had to make the Dartmouth varsity seven.
“Obviously it hasn’t come as easily in college as it did in high school,” Geoghegan said Wednesday en route to the airport. “You have to work a lot harder to be able to compete at the Division I level and it really does make it more satisfying when you do have success.”
Geoghegan led Dartmouth at the Northeast Regional with a strong fifth-place finish, covering the 10K course in the Bronx in 30 minutes, 22.1 seconds.
Dartmouth finished fifth. The top two teams were guaranteed berths in the NCAA championships. The 13 at-large bids were determined through a complex system that compared records across regions. Dartmouth made the 31-team field.
Sterling did not score for the Big Green but ran a strong race, finishing as Dartmouth’s sixth runner and 34th overall in 31:02.6. It was one of the few times this year when Sterling has not been among Dartmouth’s five scoring runners.
“I think cross country has always been the toughest season for me so this season I’m definitely the proudest of my training and the way I’ve been able to stay in the top five all year,” Sterling said.
The NCAA championships will be held Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind., at the cross country-specific Lavern Gibson course, site of the 2011 NCAA championship. Four other former Maine high school stars will also compete.
On the men’s side, Purdue sophomore Matt McClintock of Madison was second at the Great Lakes Region, just 2 seconds behind winner John Mascari of Indiana State.
UMaine junior Kelton Cullenberg, a Mt. Blue grad, qualified as an individual after placing 17th in the Northeast Regional.
Iowa State freshman Bethanie Brown of Waterville helped her team win the Midwest Region title by finishing third on her home course in Ames, Iowa. Oregon sophomore Abbey Leonardi and the defending national champion Ducks earned an at-large bid after finishing third as a team in the West Region. Leonardi was Oregon’s fourth finisher, 31st overall.
Geoghegan said the NCAA championships are considered, along with the world cross country championship, to be one of the two top cross country races in the world.
“A lot of people say the NCAAs is the deepest meet in the world, even deeper than the world cross country. The top 20 will be at least 50 percent international runners,” he said.
His goal on Saturday is to be an All-American, which would mean finishing as one of the top 30 U.S. born runners.
Sterling is shooting for a spot in the top 100 runners and believes Dartmouth, now ranked 25th, can climb into the top 15.
“We run together as a pack and it really helps to have a teammate next to you and there are still guys who have PRs (personal records) left in them,” Sterling said.
As a senior at Brunswick, Geoghegan swept the 800, mile and 2-mile at the Class A outdoor championships, won the mile at the New England championships and capped his high school career being honored as the Sunday Telegram All-Sports Athlete of the Year.
“It was hard going from winning lots of state championships to not even being close to being in the top seven on our team,” Geoghegan said.
He said he was fortunate Dartmouth Coach Barry Harwick welcomed him back to the fold as a sophomore. By his junior season he was running at the front of Dartmouth’s pack.
Geoghegan plans to run track this winter and spring, and will have a fifth year of eligibility for the track seasons. He is contemplating graduate school and running track in 2015.
Sterling is also looking forward to a spring season competing in the steeplechase, an event Harwick suggested in part because of Sterling’s soccer background.
“I’m hoping to make nationals in the steeplechase as well and to get on the top five for Dartmouth’s all-time records,” Sterling said.
Middlebury College senior Emily Attwood of Cape Elizabeth was second at the ECAC championship race in Bristol, R.I., as Middlebury won the team competition for a fifth straight year.
• Bentley University sophomore Tom Dean of Portland (Deering) finished 54th at the NCAA Division II East Regional at Franklin Park in Boston. Bentley placed 12th of 26 teams.
Providence College sophomore goalie Jon Gillies of South Portland needed just one season and 11 games to set a Friar record for career shutouts. Gillies notched his eighth career shutout (third this season) with a 3-0 win at Vermont on Saturday. It was Gillies’ 45th career start. The Friars (9-1-1) moved up to No. 3 in both major national polls. Gillies was a third-round pick (75th overall) of the Calgary Flames in 2012.
• Brown University senior forward Garnet Hathaway of Kennebunkport (Phillips Andover) has two goals and two assists in the Bears’ 3-3-1 start.
Bentley University’s Maine men have helped get the team off to a quick 4-0 start. Junior forward Andrew Shaw of Saco (Thornton Academy) is making 56.5 percent of 3-pointers and averaging 14.5 points and 6.8 rebounds entering Wednesday’s game against Assumption.
Sophomore Tyler McFarland of Rockport (Camden Hills) is averaging 20.5 points and 8.5 rebounds. Sophomore Alex Furness of Wells also starts, averaging 4.8 points with 6.0 assists. A fourth Mainer, Keegan Hyland of South Portland, has appeared in two games.
Colby College senior Gabe Donahue of Cape Elizabeth is a co-captain on this year’s team. As a junior she averaged 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds.
Bryant University sophomore goalkeeper Chris Knaub of Yarmouth stopped two penalty kicks in a career-high 12-save effort as Bryant beat Saint Francis University, 2-2 (3-0 in PKs) to advance to its first-ever Northeast Conference championship game. Bryant (7-8-2) had its season end Sunday against Saint Francis, 3-2 in overtime. Knaub made eight saves and earned all-tournament honors.
• Eastern Connecticut State freshman keeper Greg Walton of Brunswick earned first-team All-Little East honors as his team went 12-4-4 and qualified for the Division III tournament, losing a first-round game to Gordon College.
Colby-Sawyer junior Sarah Little of Scarborough was named to the All-North Atlantic Conference first team as Colby-Sawyer went 9-0 in league play and then won its first-ever NAC tournament championship, allowing only one goal against league opponents. The Chargers lost their first-ever NCAA Division III game 1-0 to Montclair State to finish the year 19-4 with 17 shutouts.
Little contributed at both ends, aiding the defense and scoring eight goals with six assists from the midfield.
Johnson & Wales junior outside hitter Alyssa Drapeau of Biddeford was selected to the All-Great Northeast Athletic Conference second team. Drapeau was also named to the All-tournament team. Johnson & Wales went 15-20.
Colby College sophomore Megan Fortier of Falmouth was picked for the All-NESCAC second team after leading the Mules in scoring with 13 goals and three assists.
• University of Massachusetts senior Hannah Prince of Gorham capped her collegiate career with her eighth goal of the season in an NCAA Division I first-round 4-3 OT win against Virginia. UMass was eliminated the next day by Duke, 4-1.
Swimming and Diving Bentley University sophomore Nicole Mancini of Falmouth was the Northeast-10 women’s diving athlete of the week for the second time this season (eighth time in her career) after winning the 1- and 3-meter dives in a 151-146 team win over Roger Williams.
• Elms College senior Keegan Goan of Westbrook is off to a fast start, winning six races in his first two meets. Against St. Joseph’s College, Goan won the 50- and 100-meter butterfly races, and was part of a 400-free relay that broke the school record by 5 seconds.
• The Wheaton College women’s 400-free relay team, which included freshman Lindsey Thomsen of Gorham and senior Adrianne Madden of Falmouth, was recently named the NEWMAC relay team of the Week.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: