The men’s and women’s cross-country teams are off to a strong start this season after an impressive performance in their dual meet at the University of Southern Maine (U.S.M.) on Saturday.

Sam Seekins ’14, Coby Horowitz ’14, Greg Talpey ’14, Nick Saba ’14, and Kevin Hoose ’15 all finished in the top six, within 23 seconds of one another.   

For the first mile and a half of the race, the lead pack included two U.S.M. runners and eight Polar Bears. Seekins, Horowitz, and the top U.S.M runner then pulled away. In the final 800 meters, Seekins and Horowitz left the U.S.M. runner behind to cross the finish line in first and second place, with Seekins finishing only six seconds ahead of Horowitz.

“The 5K race is shorter than our usual distance and at this time of the year. It’s good to have a race where we work on speed a little bit because in our workouts we’ve been working on strength mostly, on hills and in longer workouts,” said Coach Peter Slovenski.

The women’s team participated a 5K exhibition scrimmage at USM. Olivia MacKenzie ’13, Madelena Rizzo ’14, Lucy Skinner ’16, Maggie Bryan ’15, and Koko Novak ’16 all finished in under 21 minutes, a really solid start according to Slovenski.

“The women’s team had a lot of depth, with our top eight all being within 60 seconds of each other,” said Slovenski.

The Polar Bears will compete at the Wesleyan Invitational next weekend. According to Slovenski, Wesleyan, Connecticut College, Amherst, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy have some of the top runners in New England’s D-III, which will make for a challenging race for the Polar Bears.