Men's Cross-Country Settles For Ninth At CACC Championship Race

Andre Francisco is the only senior on either 2018 Felician cross-country team. (Ellen O'Brien)
Andre Francisco is the only senior on either 2018 Felician cross-country team. (Ellen O'Brien)

PHILADELPHIA – The Felician University men's cross-country team placed seventh out of 14 schools at the 2018 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Championship race, hosted by the Jefferson Rams on Sunday morning at Fairmount Park's Belmont Plateau.

Felician fell two slots from its seventh-place result a year ago. The Golden Falcons were eighth in 2016 and had also finished seventh in 2014 and 2015.

"It's very hard to play catch-up in cross-country," said first-year Felician head coach Elson Smajlaj. "If you're not ready on August 15, you just can't compete with championship-level teams. Our off-season will be about building a foundational base."

Junior transfer Jake Thoden (Hillsborough, N.J./Hillsborough) was the only Golden Falcon to break 30 minutes on the muddy 8,000-meter course. His time of 29:32 left him in 31st place out of the 88 runners who completed the race. He was 40 seconds faster than any of his teammates.

Sophomore Joel Garcia (Passaic, N.J./Passaic) was Felician's No. 2 man for the first time in 2018. His 30:18 was a 70-second improvement on the same course earlier this season and put him in 38th place. Freshman Jorge Dutan (Hackensack, N.J./Hackensack) also slipped into the top half of the field, finishing 44th in 30:39.

Also scoring for the Golden Falcons were senior Andre Francisco (Lyndhurst, N.J./Lyndhurst) (55th, 31:34), and sophomore Jason Argueta (Fairview, N.J./Cliffside Park) (59th, 32:35). Sophomore Danny Driscoll (Audubon, N.J./Audubon) was just 23 seconds and three places behind Argueta.

Francisco, pending Smajlaj's decision on a trip to the NCAA Division II East Regional championship, may have participated in the final race of his four-year Felician career.

"I have been impressed with Andre's dedication," Smajlaj said. "He led the team by his actions and always took accountability."

By CACC rules, the top 15 finishers were automatically named all-conference. Felician has not had a runner so honored since Mike Secreti in 2016.

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Felician totaled 227 points, 26 behind eighth-place University of the Sciences and 32 ahead of Goldey-Beacom College in 10th.

Wilmington (Del.) University captured its third CACC Championship in the last four years by out-pointing runner-up Bloomfield College, 47-72. Wilmington senior Mark Corrigan was the Runner of the Year, winning the race in 26:52, and Wildcat freshman Garret Checchi took Rookie of the Year honors, placing seventh with a 28:07.