Men collect 17th, women grab 16th NJAC title

The men’s and women’s cross country teams both ran their ways to 2010 New Jersey Athletic Conference Champions at Richard Stockton College this past Saturday. The wins make it the 17th consecutive NJAC championship for the men and the 16th consecutive NJAC championship for the women.

“Although all of us may have been extremely nervous about the NJAC meet, we were also very excited going into the race,” sophomore Danielle Aran said. “We didn’t really know what to expect as other teams in the NJAC have gotten progressively better over the past couple years, but we did what we had to do to keep the New Jersey Cross Country tradition alive.”

The men’s side had a flurry of runners place in the top 15, allowing the College to collect a meet best 34 points. Junior Rob Nihen led the Lions, finishing third overall with a time of 25:44. Senior TJ Bocchino followed Nihen closely as he finished fourth overall with a time of 25:57. Other impressive finishes belonged to sophomore Max Sparshatt (seventh overall), freshman Dominic Tasco (eighth overall), and junior Nick Bond (12th overall). As a result of Tasco’s effort, he claimed the 2010 NJAC Rookie of the Year.

“I’m very happy with how I placed. Each race I run is helping me gain more experience for future races. I’m just happy that I was able to help out the team,” Tasco said.

The women’s side also exhibited dominance, also finishing with 34 points. The Lions had seven scoring runners place in the top 10, led by junior Claire Johnson, finishing fourth overall with a time of 22:36. Freshman Megan Flynn followed Johnson two spots later with a time of 22:49. Strong finishes also belonged to sophomores Cathy Goncalves (seventh overall) and Rachel Morris (eighth overall). The Lions rounded out the top 10 as junior Alyssa Bannon placed ninth overall, and sophomore Danielle Aran placed 10th overall. To put the icing on the cake, Johnson was crowned the 2010 NJAC Rookie of the Year.

“During the race, I didn’t feel as great as I wanted to. However, I knew going into it that it wasn’t about individual times but what was most important was to pass as many girls as you could,” Aran said.

After impressive meets by the men and women, the Lions were able to show why they have been so dominant in nearly the past two decades of NJAC play. They will continue their great play in the Atlantic Regional Championship hosted by SUNY Oneonta on Nov. 13.

“This meet really showed us that packing up and working together is going to be extremely important when we travel up to Oneonta for Regionals,” Aran said.