PHILADELPHIA – Felician University freshman Shayla Morales (North Bergen, N.J./North Bergen) has been named the 2018 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Women's Cross-Country Rookie of the Year. The CACC announced its women's and men's all-conference teams and special award winners following the conclusion of the league championship races on Sunday morning at Belmont Plateau.
Morales was the top rookie finisher, and was second overall, on the women's side on Sunday. She traversed the 5,000-meter Belmont Plateau course, muddied from late-week rain, in a flat 20:00. Morales was defeated only by Post University junior Kendall Fitzgerald, who won her third CACC Runner of the Year award. Fitzgerald clocked in at 18:58.
Morales' time is the seventh-fastest 5,000-meter race in the 19-year history of the Felician program and is two seconds short of the school meet record. She led the Golden Falcons to a fourth-place team result out of 14 schools, one year after they placed 13th.
Morales was the only Felician entrant, male or female, to land on the 2018 all-CACC team. More information is available at http://caccathletics.org/sports/xc/2018-19/releases/1028ChampW.
"I'm happy to win this award, but I felt like I got tired too easily," Morales said. "I'm just a freshman and I want to see what more I have in me."
Morales is the first Felician female to win the CACC Rookie of the Year Award in cross-country. The Golden Falcons can claim two Women's Runners of the Year in Shakira Williams (2003) and Amanda Scibetta (2006). Two Felician men have been named CACC Rookie of the Year – Jay Rodgers (2007) and James Vander Wiele (2008).
"Shayla is just tapping into her distance potential," said first-year Felician head coach Elson Smajlaj. "This is her first full year doing cross-country. In high school she was a middle-distance specialist. She's quickly developing into the type of runner we can build a team around. I'm really proud of this award, and hopefully we can attract more like her."
Felician University, the Franciscan University of New Jersey, is a liberal arts, coeducational Catholic university founded in 1942 and sponsored by the Felician Sisters. True to its mission, Felician University welcomes a diverse student population and embraces its educational needs. With campuses in Lodi and Rutherford, New Jersey, Felician University currently enrolls more than 2,400 students and offers more than 55 undergraduate and graduate programs, in the classroom and online, in the arts and sciences, business and management sciences, health sciences and teacher education. Felician University also sponsors 14 varsity intercollegiate sports that compete at the NCAA Division II level.