According to the 2016 preseason coaches' poll, the Wheelock College men's cross country team was chosen to repeat a fourth place finish at the New England Collegiate College Championship, after placing a program-best fourth overall in 2015.
Head Coach Wole Oke, in his fourth year in charge, set out for preseason with newcomer Conor Bailey and six returners, including junior Mohamed Mohamed, sophomore Christ Genty and sophomore captain Colin Marie.
The conference championship took place on Saturday, November 5 at Stanley Park in Westfield, Mass. After being predicted to take a fourth place finish, the Wildcats recorded their best team finish in program history, taking third place overall.
Wheelock was led by Christ Genty, who took home a spot on the NECC Second Team after placing ninth overall. The sophomore set a school record for the 8k, completing the course with a final time of 28:56.19.
Next in line for the Wildcats was Ian Umphrey, who finished 17th overall and recording a final time of 31:15.84. Conor Bailey and Mohamed Mohamed recorded back-to-back finishes, placing 24th and 25th overall, respectively.
Kenny Jean completed the course in 28th place, while Matthew Boor rounded out the Wheelock runners in 34th overall.
NCAA DIVISION III REGIONAL QUALIFIER
The team closed out it's 2016 season traveling back to Stanley Park for the NCAA Division III New England Regional Qualifier race.
Genty paced the Wildcats, completing the 8k course with a final time of 29:44.98, which is the second all-time fastest in program history. Next in line for Wheelock came Ian Umphrey, who crossed the line in 30:27.41.
Mohamed Mohamed and Kenny Jean recorded back-to-back finishes, completing the race with times of 35:35.65 and 35:42.89, respectively. Matthew Boor completed the outing, coming in with a 40:27.14 final time.
Christ Genty enjoyed a stellar sophomore season. The Revere, Mass. native recorded a top-ten finish at the Rivier Raider Invitational on Friday, September 16 and the very next day, earned his first career victory, placing first at the Mitchell College Invitational in New London, Conn.
Genty is the first male runner at Wheelock College to earn a spot on an NECC All-Conference team, as he was named to the Second Team with a ninth place finish at the conference championship.
In addition to his top-ten championship finish and All-NECC Second Team placement, Christ set a school record for the 8k that day, finishing the course with a time of 28:56.2.
In a season of firsts, the squad earned a place on the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) 2016 All-Academic Teams honoree list.
This recognition marked the first time men's cross country earned a team academic award and joined 173 squads on the USTFCCCA's list for Division III. In order to be considered for the honor, teams must have competed and compiled a team score in an NCAA Regional meet while holding a minimum GPA of 3.10.
Wheelock was the only New England Collegiate Conference team to garner the distinction on the men's side while Elms College and Southern Vermont College made the list on the women's side.
Individually, Kenny Jean and Ian Umphrey led the team in the classroom, as they were each named to the 2016 NECC Fall All-Academic Team. In order to be considered for this honor, runners must be a sophomore or higher in class standings while also earning a minimum GPA of 3.40.
Jean and Mohamed Mohamed are Dean's List recipients for the Fall 2016 semester, after achieving the minimum 3.80 semester GPA.
During fall preseason of 2016, men's and women's cross country runners set aside some time to give back to the community and spent a day volunteering at Community Servings of nearby Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Community Servings is a nonprofit organization that provides healthy food to individuals and families with critical and chronic illnesses.
At the end of the academic year, junior Ian Umphrey traveled to Guatemala for a week of service as part of the Wheelock Athletics Department's annual student-athlete service learning trip. While in Central America, Ian spent a week mentoring and tutoring young people at Safe Passage/Camino Seguro, a nonprofit organization that provides education and empowerment to underprivileged students and their families.