Courtesy Doug DeBiase, CACC Associate Commissioner
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The 2018 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Men's and Women's Cross Country seasons will get underway this weekend, as several schools compete in a variety of races held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday will feature five schools in action spanning three races including Bloomfield College (Ramapo College Season Opener); Chestnut Hill College, Goldey-Beacom College and Nyack College (Adelphi Panther Invitational); and Jefferson (Temple University Invitational).
Teams will be competing throughout September and early October in a build-up to the 2018 CACC Cross Country Championships on Sunday, Oct. 28, at Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia, Pa., and hosted by Jefferson. The conference championship races return to Belmont after a year at White Clay Creek State Park in 2017. The women's race will kick off Championship Sunday with the 5k event at 9 a.m., followed by the men's 8k race at 10 a.m. The post-race championship awards ceremony will immediately follow the men's jaunt.
Belmont Plateau will serve as the host two races prior to the CACC Championships, as several conference schools will take part in those events as a preview for the Oct. 28 event. The first of two preview races at Belmont will be the Philadelphia Metropolitan Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 8. Seven CACC schools, in addition to host school Jefferson, are scheduled to take part in the event including Bloomfield, Caldwell University, Chestnut Hill, Felician University, Holy Family, Nyack and Wilmington University. Belmont will also serve as the host course for the Jack Saint Clair Memorial Race on Saturday, Oct. 13, and will feature Bloomfield, HFU and Jefferson.
The following are notes on both the men's and women's teams of each school, courtesy of the respective institution's Director of Athletic Communications:
Men: The Bears men's cross country team looks good going into preseason as returners Isaiah Curbelo, Marc Lugo and Marisa Nazario anchor the team with leadership and experience. The men added a few freshmen to round out the team and look make their mark when the season opens at Ramapo College.
Women: Bloomfield's women's cross country team is poised to make an impact this year with confidence and experience on their side. Head Coach, Lisa Morgan-Richman is optimistic of her team's ability to stay together during races this year and finish strong at the end.
Men: Top returner Frank Durkin: 27th place at CACCs in 2017 ... Strong returning runners ... Young mentality and much stronger drive to win.
Women: Top returner Megan Barreto: 35th place at CACCs in 2017 ... Developed runners ready to push through another season ... Trained hard through the summer and ready to put new speed on the courses.
CHESTNUT HILL COLLEGE
Men: Chestnut Hill College returns their top six performers from the 2017 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Men's Cross Country Championship, where they finished a program-best, second (2nd of 14) with 91 points. All-CACC performers, junior Zigmund Fisher (Chadds Ford, Pa.) (3rd, 26:54.1) – who set an individual meet record for the Scarlet and Gold, bested his previous course pace (6th, 28:01:5) from the University of Delaware Invitational (September 16), and the mark set by Giancarlo Martines (1st, 27:08.6) in his 2015 CACC Championship run by more than 10 seconds - and senior Zack Bush (Aston, Pa.) (6th, 27:37.3) headline the group.
Women: Chestnut Hill College returns six of seven participants from the 2017 CACC Women's Cross Country Championship. The Griffins enjoyed a program-best, fourth place (4th of 13, 133 points) finish with three individuals placing among the top-40. Senior Raquel Lopez (East Meadow, N.Y.), senior Makenzie Hooven (Philadelphia, Pa.), and sophomore Taylor Neals(Bensalem, Pa.) all finished among the top-25; Lopez came in 17th (20:48.8), Hooven was right behind her, crossing 18th (21:00.1), while Neals was 25th with her time of 21:31.8.
Men: Men return Mohammed Alasaday, the Clippers' top-finisher at the 2017 CACC Championship.
Women: Newcomer to the women's team Ishmael Yamoh is no stranger to Concordia, as the Dunmore, Pa., native was a four-year letterwinner with the Clippers' softball program.
Men: Team will have new head coach, Eric Schaffer ... Team returns 6 runners from 2017 including senior Darren Guzman, junior Rollens Florvil and sophomore Oscar Vidal. Vidal is coming off a strong rookie year as he earned one CACC Rookie of the Week honors and was named to the weekly honor roll twice last season ... Won one race last season as they opened up with a win at the SUNY Purchase Invitational.
Women: Team will have a new head coach, Eric Schaffer ... Team returns 4 runners from 2016 including All-CACC selection Andrea Nardone, who finished 11th at the CACC Championships and earned two CACC Rookie of the Week accolades. Team also features senior Jennifer Heller, junior Kaitlynn Connor and sophomore Victoria Ostolozaga ... Team had two top four finishes at the SUNY Purchase Invitational and Cougar Chase.
Men: Elson Smajlaj becomes the fourth coach in program history. He takes over a rebuilding Golden Falcon team that may field only seven runners. Sophomore Joel Garcia is the returning frontrunner, but will be challenged by transfer Jake Thoden. Former walk-on Andre Francisco of nearby Lyndhurst is the team's only senior.
Women: The Golden Falcons not only feature seven freshmen on a 13-athlete preseason roster, but will be guided by a new coach, former Bloomfield College mentor Elson Smajlaj. Junior Jane Burgoyne is the returning No. 1 runner. Classmate Valentina Gonzalez and transfer Jillian O'Brien should also be dependable scorers.
GEORGIAN COURT UNIVERSITY
Men: The men's cross country team will be a young team this year with a lot of talent. Hussein Elmeshad will spearhead the young team as they attempt to make headway in the Conference. I am excited to see what this group can bring and we are hopeful that they will surprise a lot of people this year.
Women: The women's cross country program will be a young-talented unit. Kylie Jones will look to repeat her season of success from last year and help lead the Lions to a great finish at the top of the conference. Although young, this group will set a foundation for years to come.
Men: The men's unit will get a boost from senior Jono Hooper (Brisbane, Australia), who was the only one for the Lightning to compete in all seven meets. He recorded two top-10 finishes and five top-20 finishes, closed third in 29:01.9 at the GBC Fall Classic and seventh in 27:08 at the CNU Invitational. Junior Adam Quann (Pennsville, NJ) had a stellar 2017 in which he competed in five races, including an 18th-place finish in 28:49 at the CNU Invitational. He also ended 21st in 31:39 at the GBC Fall Classic, 30th in 30:51.93 at the Delaware Invitational and 40th in 29:36.7 at the CACC Championship. Senior Ronald Prescott (Middletown, DE) had a strong campaign in his first year with the Lightning. Over his five races, he ended 35th in 33:52 at the CNU Invitational and 84th in 35:44.4 at the CACC Championship.
Women: The women's team see the return of sophomore Cara Jones (Wilmington, DE), who took part in six races a season ago. She ended 24th in 28:28 at the CNU Invitational, 30th in 24:57.7 at the GBC Fall Classic and 50th in 23:02.5 at the CACC Championship. Sophomore Brittany Delgado (Hamilton, NJ) is one of two returnees for the Lightning who competed in six races. She closed 31st in 31:19 at the CNU Invitational, 34th in 25:24.6 at the GBC Fall Classic and 72nd in 25:02.1 at the CACC Championship. Senior Chelby McCall (Chesapeake City, MD) once again will be one of the key runners looked at this year. Over five races last season, she finished 43rd in 27:10.5 at the GBC Fall Classic, 75th in 26:15.45 at the Dutchmen Invitational and 80th in 27:40.6 at the CACC Championship.
HOLY FAMILY UNIVERSITY
Men: Juniors Connor Irwin and John Orozco are the veteran leaders of the team. Tigers return five runners from a year ago and will add three first-time runners to the mix this year.
Women: Top returner is DeHavalan Watts who finished second overall at the CACC Championship with a school-record time of 19:55.1. She was the first runner in program history to finish the conference championship in less than 20 minutes. The women's team will have seven first-time runners this year and six returners.
Men: Looking to defend their 2017 CACC Championship, which came as their third conference title since joining the CACC ... Returning two All-CACC finishers from a year ago in Sergei Cendo and Ethan Fadale, both seniors in 2018-19 ... Hosting the CACC Championship at the Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia, Pa. for the first time since 2016.
Women: Looking for their fifth-straight conference championship in 2018 after winning the last four and nine of the last 10 ... Returning four of their six All-CACC finishers from a year ago ... Hosting the CACC Championship at the Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia, Pa. for the first time since 2016.
Men: The Men's Cross-Country team prepares to open up the new season welcoming freshman Alex Barreras and Mason Smith who the Warriors look to to make an immediate impact. Zach Trador returns with high expectations entering his senior year and looks to lead the Warriors this year. The men's team also welcomes back seniors Kelvin Kiprop and Danson Kirwa who are sure to make an impact.
Women: Winnie Jepkeoch and Bornes Changwony return for their final season looking to carry the momentum from some very impressive performances during Spring Track. Warriors also welcome freshman Julia Nelson and Grace Wells who look to set the foundation for the future of the women's team.
Men: On the men's side, George Moukas is the top returner. Placed in the top-10 in three races last season including 5th at CACC Championship and was named Rookie of the Year.
Women: Kendall Fitzgerald looking for her 3rd straight CACC Championship. Became Post's first-ever XC Academic All-American and National qualifier last year.
UNIVERSITY OF THE SCIENCES
Men: A season after featuring a roster without an upperclassmen, University of the Sciences' 2018 roster will feature just one upperclassmen in junior Scott Jacobs ... Five others – all sophomores – return, including Johnathan Epstein, who finished just one second and one place out of All-CACC honors in 2017 ... The next-highest placing runner for the Devils at the 2017 Championship was Christopher Cardace, who crossed 39th ... USciences also brings in three freshman.
Women: University of the Sciences returns seven runners from a squad that placed sixth at the 2017 CACC Championship, including rising junior Elizabeth Sauers, who has earned All-CACC honors in each of her first two seasons after a third place finish in 2017 ... Rising senior Regan Asay will to finally breakthrough for All-CACC honors in her final attempt, after placing 19th, 23rd and 20th in her first three tries ... USciences will also be bolstered by the return of Gabby Moss, who missed 2017 due to injury after placing 18th at the 2016 CACC Championships as a freshman ... The Devils bring in three freshmen.
Men: The men look to return to the top of the CACC in 2018, returning the CACC Runner of the Year in Mark Corrigan as well as three other seniors and four-year runners in Johnathan Avila, Jayven Davis, and Miguel Suero. Corrigan won the CACC Championship meet by nearly 15 seconds while the top four Wildcat finishers all return in Avila (21st), sophomore Jake Puharic (23rd), and Suero (24th).
Women: The women tied their best finish at the CACC Championship last season, coming in second with two All-CACC performers. They lost their top finisher but return All-CACC performer and graduate student Gabby Brown (9th), sophomore Alexa Crowell (30th), and sophomore Julia Merritt (34th). The Wildcats will be led by their three seniors in Brown, Tori Crawford, and Tara Langan in 2018.
ABOUT THE CACC
The Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference is an NCAA Division II Conference composed of 14 institutions in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The member institutions are Bloomfield College, Caldwell University, Chestnut Hill College, Concordia (N.Y.) College, Dominican (N.Y.) College, Felician University, Georgian Court University, Goldey-Beacom College, Holy Family University, Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University), Nyack College, Post University of Waterbury, University of the Sciences, and Wilmington University.