Former Pentucket star Eric McDonald, a senior at UMass Lowell, just missed reaching his goal yesterday in the NCAA Division 2 cross country nationals at Missouri Southern State University.
McDonald, who was aiming for a spot in the top 40, which would have made him an All-American, finished 46th. in the field of 245 competitors, crossing the finish line on the hilly 10K course in a time of 30:37.1.
Neither UMass Lowell coach Gary Gardner nor McDonald had any regrets.
“He ran a great race,” says Gardner. “He worked hard; he put himself in the hunt.”
McDonald pushed hard during the last mile in hopes of finishing in the top 40.
“During that last mile, I knew I had to move up,” says McDonald, “but the gaps were broken up. I was picking off people; I just needed to pick off a few more.”
McDonald’s teammate, Jeff Veiga of Lowell, did earn All-American honors with a sixth place finish.
“Jeff (Veiga) ran a great race,” said Gardner. “He was there, he had a chance to win it and that’s all you can ask for.”
Veiga was clocked in 29:23.1, more than two seconds faster than the school outdoor record for the 10,000 meters on a track.
“I have nothing to complain about,” says Veiga. “I felt that I ran really well, it was a huge personal best for me. I’m just mad that everyone else ran so well.”
Veiga ran with the lead pack throughout the 6.2-mile course and held the lead at the four and a half mile mark, but was unable to separate himself from the lead group of eight runners.
“There was nobody better than Jeff,” says Gardner. “It’s just that somebody had a slightly better day.”
Micah Chelimo of Alaska Anchorage won the individual championship with a time of 28:56.6.