RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Felician College senior Rob Albano (Pompton Plains, N.J./Pequannock Township) has been named the 2012 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Men's Cross-Country Runner of the Year. The CACC postseason award winners were announced following the conclusion of the league championship race, hosted by Philadelphia University on Sunday at Fairmount Park's Belmont Plateau.
Albano became the first male in conference history to win the Runner of the Year award more than once. He also took the honor as a junior in 2011. Four women have accomplished the feat.
The Runner of the Year is an automatic award accorded to the winner of the conference championship race. Albano bested a field of 66 runners on Sunday, winning by 35 seconds over teammate and fellow senior Taylor Trumbetti (Montvale, N.J./Pascack Hills). He was 1:10 ahead of anyone not from Felician.
Albano set a meet record by completing the five-mile course in 26 minutes, 23 seconds. The previous CACC standard of 26:34 belonged to a former Golden Falcon, Paul Chegwidden, the 2007 winner. Albano narrowly missed eclipsing Chegwidden last year, when he captured the CACC Championship in 26:35, also at Belmont Plateau.
Felician has now claimed six CACC Men's Runner of the Year awards. Prior to Albano's pair, the honor was won by Ricky Pfeifer (2000), Travis Graham (2001), Chegwidden, and Albano's former high-school and college teammate, James Vander Wiele (2008, as a freshman). Two Golden Falcon women, Shakira Williams (2003) and Amanda Scibetta (2006), have also been league champions.
"Rob has a work ethic that's beyond belief," said 11th-year Felician head coach John Brennan. "We're talking consistently 100 miles per week. In a sport that's more about training than skill, Rob is the embodiment of what you can become if you are willing to sacrifice and train."
The victory also extends an undefeated season for Albano, who has completed five races in 2012 and won them all. He has now finished first in 10 invitational events in his collegiate career, by far the most by a Golden Falcon.
"Every meet is big to me, and each one brings different challenges," Albano said. "You want to improve each week. The hardest part for me has been putting together a full season. It seems like something always happens. But this year I haven't gotten sick, haven't had any serious injuries, and haven't taken a wrong turn, and I've been able to meet all of my goals."
The Golden Falcons will conclude their season at the NCAA Division II East Regional championship on November 4 in Nashua, N.H. Albano will be looking to repeat as a all-region honoree, and will attempt to become the first Felician runner to quality for an NCAA national championship race.