Copley, Mannion are ‘stars’ for men’s cross-country

Rebecca Castagna

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By Rebecca Castagna, QBSN Online Editor

Seven seconds separated Quinnipiac from Monmouth at last year’s NEC Cross Country Championships, where it came in third. Now that both teams made the switch to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), the Bobcats and head coach Carolyn Martin have their hearts set on redemption.

“It literally came down to someone’s kick … that makes or breaks the win,” Martin said. “We stress to the guys that you can’t give up until you cross that finish line and you have to give everything you’ve got until you’re across because of what happened to us last year.”

Courtesy of quinnipiacbobcats.com

Courtesy of quinnipiacbobcats.com

Sophomore Brendan Copley (Colchester, Vt.) and junior Spencer Mannion (Brookfield, Conn.) are using last year as motivation, and have taken the top two times for Quinnipiac in the first two invitationals of the season.

It began at the Stony Brook Invitational on Aug. 31, where Copley and Mannion came in first and second overall and helped secure a second place finish for Quinnipiac.

It was Copley’s first career victory, and the first time a Bobcat has won an event since Richard Klauber took the NEC Championship in 2008. Copley finished the 6K with a time of 18:58.71, nearly a minute faster than his 2012 result for the same race (19:49.87). The MAAC named him Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week.

As Copley gradually acclimates to the increase in mileage from high school to college, Martin predicts he will continue to develop throughout the season.

“He’s just going to keep getting better and better,” she said. “His progression in college is going to be pretty amazing.”

Copley crossed the finish line more than 15 seconds faster than Mannion, who earned his second career top-five finish with a career-best individual time of 19:13.94 in the invitational.

Both runners took the top two Quinnipiac times in Saturday’s 5K invitational at Bryant University, where the team finished in third. The coaches strategically picked the shorter race to help the men continue training for more important meets later in the season.

“They don’t get to run 5Ks that often in college, so it’s nice for them,” Martin said. “It’s a little easier on their legs to be able to do something like that earlier on in the season.”

Copley says they need to keep the length of the season in perspective.

“Our goals really are oriented towards the end of the season,” he said. “Coach [Martin] has kind of constantly been putting in our mind, maybe don’t ‘go to the wells,’ … don’t give it your all in a particular race.”

Courtesy of quinnipiacbobcats.com

Courtesy of quinnipiacbobcats.com

Martin said this is important for Mannion, who was injured in the first half of last season.

“He just has to be a little better at making decisions when he’s racing and not making moves too hard, too early in the race,” she said.

Mannion is taking her words to heart.

“By the time I was coming back [last year] I had already missed so much that I kept improving through the end,” he said. “This year I’m trying to focus on … being strong, reaching my peak at the end and staying healthy.”

As the Bobcats face a new, competitive conference — in which Iona College has won the past 22 MAAC Championships — they will have to work their way to the top with a young roster.

But Martin has confidence in the team, and in Copley and Mannion.

“The two of them are going to be stars for us,” she said.

The next meet is on Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Iona Meet of Champions in Bronx, N.Y.

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Copley, Mannion are ‘stars’ for men’s cross-country