Saturday, April 19, 2014
Local cross country fans are used to seeing, reading about, and hearing about Matt McClintock doing amazing things as a cross country runner. Some 1,200 miles away from his home in Athens, McClintock is now doing the same things as a freshman at Purdue University.
In five meets this season, the Madison Area Memorial High School graduate has finished first among Purdue runners in all five, and first among all runners of any school in two of them. He’s only the second Purdue runner to earn Big Ten Runner of the Week honors as a freshman, and he’s done it twice. At the Big Ten Championships, he was the only freshman in the top 15, placing eighth overall. He was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
“Matt has just had an incredible run this fall,” Purdue assistant coach Dave Hartman said. “We knew he was talented, based on his high school accomplishments. But high school accomplishments don’t always translate to collegiate success, especially initially.”
Adjustments for freshmen runners include the normal college things like being away from home and balancing school with other aspects of life. Runners also have to deal with longer distances in college, and Hartman said McClintock handles every change with poise.
“I think that Matt has a tremendous drive to be successful and a very humble being about himself,” Hartman said. “He takes it in stride. In fact, I think sometimes he almost wishes some of that attention was diverted to some of his teammates.”
Purdue competes Friday in the NCAA Great Lakes Regional at Madison, Wis. After that — possibly — there’s the NCAA championships at Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 17.
“I think Matt has a tremendous opportunity to qualify for the NCAA championships as an individual,” Hartman said. “The competition will be tremendous. I still feel, in saying that, if Matt goes out and runs the way he’s capable, he’ll put himself in position to qualify.”
• • •
The University of Maine at Farmington men’s basketball team has two new assistant coaches this season. One is Dan Kane, who graduated earlier this season after a solid career with the Beavers.
The other is Jim Bessey, a 1965 UMF grad who stepped down as Mt. Blue boys basketball coach this spring, after 479 victories over 37 seasons.
“We’ve always been friends,” UMF coach Dick Meader said. “I coached his son at Thomas for four years, Danny Bessey. When he got done, he just wanted to be involved — not fully involved, but somewhat. (So far) he’s been more fully involved than part. It’s been great.”
Meader said Bessey’s best quality when working with players is his enthusiasm for teaching.
“He loves studying the game,” Meader said. “He loves taking what he learns, and trying to see how that works with players. Not only does he have a lot of knowledge, he’s constantly trying to find more knowledge.”
• • •
Messalonskee graduate Katie Bernatchez was playing limited minutes as a freshman field hockey player at Boston University this fall. But when a starter went down with an injury, Bernatchez immediately filled her role.
Bernatchez has started four games for the Terriers, who are 12-6-0 and ranked No. 15 in the country in the latest National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll.
“She has just very good game sense,” BU coach Sally Starr said. “She’s got very quick hands. She can eliminate very well. Her tackling has improved a lot this season. As a freshman, she did not redshirt, and I think that’s really a testament to her ability as an incoming freshman.”
Jacinda McLeod, who was America East conference defensive player of the year as a sophomore and junior — the first player to win the award twice — was sidelined after suffering a knee injury Oct. 19 against the University of New Hampshire. Bernatchez had actually started that game, and is now at right back for the Terriers.
“She’s done an outstanding job for us,” Starr said. “She has what I like to call a high PPR — a Positive Play Ratio. She makes very few unforced errors.”
BU was not allowed to compete in the America East tournament because it will play in the Patriot League next fall. The Terriers were hoping for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Beyond this year, Starr expects Bernatchez to compete for a starting job again next fall.
“We’re looking for her to continue what she’s doing this year,” Starr said. “She’s not playing like a freshman. She’s such a hard worker, and she’s got such a good head on her shoulders. I think she’s just going to get better and better every year.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243