SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 26, 2012

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

By Jean DePlacido
Correspondent

---- — 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.

“I never expected to come in as a freshman and lead the team. My freshman year at Peabody I ran with John Lawrence when he was a senior. Now he’s our captain at Merrimack and doing a good job with a very young team.

“I did set a couple of goals for this season, but I had no real expectations,” Christensen continued. “I really wanted to see how quickly I could adjust to the longer 8K distance. We’ll be running a 10K at the regional in Nashua, N.H.”

Christensen said the team took a trip there a month ago and had a chance to work out on the course. so it will not be unfamiliar to them at regionals.

“We’ve got a great team, and four of our top seven are freshmen,” said Christensen, who expects to do the 5K or 10K indoors. “We also have a sophomore transfer from Mitchell College (in Conn.), Sherif Ali, who is very talented. He’s always right at my side, and we also have a good tight second pack. And Kerry has been running very well all season long for the women.”

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Brad Rocheville, the former Bishop Fenwick star goalie, is off to a great start for the Boston Junior Rangers hockey team. After a 4-2 win over the Northern Cyclones Wednesday night , the Rangers are in first place in the Atlantic Junior Hockey League.

Rocheville has been superb, going 4-0-2 with a 1.93 goals-against average. He has given up only 10 goals in those six games, with one shutout and a save percentage of .952.

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Support a great cause and get a chance to mingle with a couple of New England Patriot starters at a fundraiser for Danvers native Rachael Mackey at the Scoreboard Sports Bar and Grill in Woburn on Monday, Nov. 5. The sports auction event, which runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., is hosted by Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington and defensive tackle Kyle Love and will benefit the Ream Team Foundation.

Mackey, who is being treated in Houston for a benign brain tumor, is 28 years old. She was first diagnosed in 2010 and underwent surgery. Funds from this benefit will help defray costs during this difficult time.

General admission for the event is $25. Hors d’oeuvres, a raffle and a live auction are all included. VIP tickets are $75 and include a meet-and-greet session with the Patriot players in a private area, as well as photos and autographs, complementary food and a raffle ticket drawing from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m.

To purchase tickets, please call Lauren Fabbrucci at 781-249-0733.

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Jean DePlacido is a part-time writer and columnist for The Salem News. Contact her at jmdeplacido@aol.com.