‘At-Large’ and in charge: Lions headed to Nationals

The NCAA Division III Atlantic Regional Cross Country Championship were held this past Saturday at Van Cortlandt Park, N.Y.

Automatic bids to the NCAA Division III Championship were offered to the top two teams of each section. The Lions’ men finished in third place in one of the most competitive regions in the country with 120 points. The women took fourth with a score of 146 points. While neither team for the College won automatic bids to Nationals, both teams were granted at-Large bids.

The top two qualifying teams for the men were New York University and SUNY-Cortland.

For the women, the automatic qualifiers were SUNY-Geneseo (41 points) and Plattsburgh State (41 points). The tie score was decided upon by the seventh place finisher for each team, which gave SUNY-Geneseo the advantage.

Head coach Phil Jennings was proud of the strong performances his teams gave this past weekend.

“We improved more than any other team over these past few months,” he said.

The College’s top finisher for the men in the 8,000-meter race was junior Chris Guerriero. Guerriero captured a sixth-place finish for the Lions in a time of 24:42.

Pleased with the outcome of the meet and the performance of his teammates, Guerriero said, “We had an advantage being from New Jersey. We were able to run the course at a previous meet and also go up there to practice on weekends. It definitely helps to know every turn and what to expect.”

Freshman TJ Bocchino took home 22nd place in 25:24. Senior captain Galen Johnson ran a personal best of 25:29 to pick up 25th place while senior teammate Steve Kinney completed the race in 25:34 for 29th place. Adding a 38th-place finish was senior Anthony Arnold, running a 25:43 while sophomore Mike Fonder placed 40th in 25:48.

Completing the men’s scorers was sophomore Brandon Rodkewitz in 45th place in 25:59.

As for the women, junior Martine McGrath was the Lions’ lead runner, ending the 6,000-meter race in a time of 22:16 and capturing eighth place.

“The atmosphere of this meet just pumps everyone up,” McGrath said. “We really worked together, stepped up and did what had to be done. We ran great, but I think we can run even harder at Nationals.”

Next was junior Megan O’Leary picking up 30th place in 22:59, while junior Nicole Ullmeyer was just behind her, claiming 31st place in 23:02. Junior Angela Tecco added a 37th-place finish, running a time of 23:16. Next for the College was junior Stephanie Herrick, taking 40th in a time of 23:24.

The final scorers for the women were senior co-captain Christine Nystrom (43rd in 23:25) and junior Sara Best (44th in 23:29).

The Lions will head to the NCAA Division III Championship at St. Olaf College this Saturday.

“We have the experience and expectations to do well at Nationals,” Jennings said. “When we go, we are going to do what needs to be done and compete.”