Keene State College will be hosting the Little East Conference (LEC) Cross Country Championships this year. The championship had originally been set to be held at the University of Southern Maine (USM).

This will mark the sixth time KSC has hosted the championship, with the last time being in 2015. The last time the championship was held at KSC, the men’s cross country team won the conference title.

The championship will be taking place on Saturday, Oct. 28.

This year, the runners are looking to reclaim their title. On the women’s side, the cross country team is aiming for its 18th consecutive title.

KSC senior and member of the men’s cross country team Ian Connell said he is excited to race this year. He said that there are a lot of little things runners pick up from running a course in practice that might help the men’s team win back their title.

Connell said that every race is just a race, and he never really lets the course affect how he runs, but that after running a course so many times over the past four years, he’s learned “when to go,” as well as that the course has “soft footing,” that can slow you down.

Conell said that he thinks both squads have a good shot at winning this year and he is looking forward to competing.

The LEC championship was meant to be held at the University of Southern Maine this year, but because of a conflict with course scheduling, it had to be moved.

KSC Director of Athletics and Recreation Dr. Kristene Kelly said she was instrumental in bringing the championship to KSC this year.

When Kelly heard about scheduling issues at USM, she offered KSC to host the event.  She said USM had “lots of conflicts as far as missing classes,” as well as scheduling interfering with other events.

Kelly also said she is excited to have the championship at KSC this year, especially because of what it will mean to both the men’s and women’s teams.

Speaking on that, she said, “We are going for our 18th consecutive women’s championship, so I’m excited, it would be great to have it here and for that to happen.”

She also said it would be great if the men’s team could reclaim the title this year from USM to whom they lost last year by only a few points.

Both squads are ready to go this year, and are looking forward to competing for the LEC title on their home turf.

Sophomore Lauren Perkowski said she is excited to see how the team will perform.  Perkowski said this year’s team has a much stronger focus on group running when compared to years past. She thinks this will help to overcome the youth of the team.

Perkowski also said that both teams will be pushing themselves hard for all the friends and family that will hopefully attend the event this year. She also said that running the Keene Invitational only a month before will give both teams a goal to surpass come the championships.

All-in-all, the cross country program is ready to perform this year at the championships, and both programs are looking to impress the home crowd.

Simon Burch can be contacted at sburch@kscequinox.com