SMITHFIELD – On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, millions of Americans across the country will be remembering today all those who perished in the terrorist attacks in 2001.
Under a bright sun on Saturday afternoon, hundreds of runners, walkers, family and friends gathered at the Bryant University campus to remember one of their own at the 11th annual Shawn M. Nassaney Memorial Cross-Country Race/Walk. Along with his girlfriend Lynn Goodchild, the popular Nassaney, a former standout runner for St. Raphael Academy and Bryant, was among those aboard United Airlines Flight 175, the second plane to hit the World Trade Center towers in New York City.
Brendan Shannon, a teammate of Nassaney at Bryant in the 1990s, flew in for yesterday’s event from his home in Maryland. Just like a good portion of the field, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Shannon, who was a grad assistant at Bryant in 2001, was among a small group of individuals, including Shawn’s dad, Patrick Nassaney, that formed the first Nassaney race a month after Sept. 11.
“I helped start the race and helped get it up and going so I have a little bit of sentimental attachment. It’s great seeing how great it is and seeing all family and friends that come out here,” Shannon said. “It’s part of our legacy, remembering Shawn. I think it’s a great way to celebrate his life. It’s something that my wife and I come to every year. It’s something we make sure we have circled on our calendar and always plan around it.”
In the memorial race, held after a brief ceremony remembering Nassaney, Goodchild and others of the 9/11 attacks, the men’s title went to former Smithfield High and Bryant runner Eric Narcisi. Narcissi, a teammate of Nassaney at Bryant, captured his third title on the challenging five-kilometer course. The ex-Sentinel all-stater won by nearly a minute.
“The running has been going great,” said Narcisi, who is training for next month’s Bay State Marathon in Lowell, Mass. “I am in the midst of the taper time of my cycle from hitting 100-mile weeks. If I hit it this week it will be five weeks in a row. I am pretty, constantly beat. I’m training for Bay State where I hope to do 2:25. I think I am there.”
Cumberland’s Kerri (Buco) Ramos, a 1992 graduate of St. Ray’s during a time when the girls’ cross-country teams won four state titles between 1989-93, copped the women’s title. Like Narcisi, she has competed in every single Nassaney race.
“It definitely makes it more special (running) on the 10th anniversary,” she said. “I have my whole family running today – my husband, my two girls, my son and my mom.”
Ramos, who competed for Saints while Nassaney was an upperclassman, was never seriously challenged in winning her first race at Bryant.
“The first mile was good. The second mile wasn’t too bad,” she said. “The third mile with all the hills is when I felt it the most.”
At least 600-plus were at the Nassaney race which was preceded by the inaugural Shawn M. Nassaney Cross-Country Invitational, an event that attracted 12 colleges and universities, including nationally-ranked Providence College. The Lady Friars, ranked third in the nation, dominated the women’s race. Emily Sisson, a recent transfer from the University of Wisconsin, where she finished 15th at the NCAA Championships last year as a freshman, and teammates Laura Nagel and Hannah Davidson claimed the top three position. Sisson, who finished in a three-way tie, was officially awarded first with her time of 17:09.99. Without three of their varsity runners, the Friars also had three more harriers among the top nine finishers.
“They were coasting,” said PC coach Ray Treacy. “I rested three of my top six. With those three (Sisson, Nagel and Davidson) and the three that are rested, it makes for a really great squad.”
In the men’s race, individual honors went to Boston College’s Rich Peters, who clocked a time of 15:00.04. He was just ahead of Northeastern’s Eric Jenkins, a runner-up at 15:00.98. Providence College had five of their runners among the first 10, led by a third-place finish from Shane Quinn (15:04.31). Northeastern sophomore Brian Doyle, son of the late Bobby Doyle, the legendary R.I. marathoner and former Woonsocket track and cross-country coach, was fifth overall with a time of 15:19.96.
Patrick Nassaaney was at Bryant all day and was overwhelmed by a great response once again for the memorial race and the new college invite that honors his late son. It’s something that puts a smile on his face during an emotional time for him and his family.
“Absolutely,” he said. “To have something like this gives us the opportunity to have family and friends get together. We have people come from the west coast, from New York City. A lot of people ask us aren’t we going to Ground Zero on the 10th anniversary (today)? We say no. We are here with our friends and family. It doesn’t get better than this. We can go to Ground Zero at a later time. It’s such a great feeling to be surrounded by these people and all their support.”