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October 26, 2012

Jean DePlacido column: Peabody freshmen have banner seasons for Merrimack cross country

Two freshmen from Peabody have made a big impression in their initial college cross country seasons. Kerry Phelan and Nick Christensen have both played big roles at Merrimack College this fall.

Phelan was voted Northeast-10 Female Cross Country Rookie of the Year after helping the Warriors finish in a tie for sixth with UMass Lowell at the league championship meet at LeMoyne College in Syracuse. She finished 15th overall on the 5K course in 19:24.3 and made All-League third team.

Earlier this month, Phelan (who attended high school at Hamilton-Wenham Regional) set a new school record at the New England Championships in Westfield (18:43.19). Her 83rd place finish was the best in her conference.

Phelan received two Rookie of the Week honors during the season and led the Warriors in every event except the NE-10 Conference championship, where she was a close second.

“My time at the conference meet (last Saturday) wasn’t a personal best, but being named Rookie of the Year and making the third All-League team was a good conclusion to the season,” said Phelan, a health science major.

Phelan said she wasn’t even aware she broke the school record in the 5K; her goals coming into the season were simply to stay healthy and record a PR.

“Running in college is different because there’s a lot more mileage involved, but it has been an easy transition coming for a strong program like Hamilton-Wenham,” she said.

Christensen, a former Peabody High standout, received NE-10 Rookie of the Week honors after winning the Rivier Invitational last month. He was sick but still ran at the conference meet, helping his team take eighth with a 34th place finish on the 8K course in 27:09.8.

“It’s been a good year and I’m looking forward to regionals,” said Christensen, a sports medicine major with the intention of going into physical therapy. “I had a sinus infection and was on antibiotics at the NE-10 meet, and that was not a good race for me.

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