NEWARK, N.J. – Freshman Shayla Morales (North Bergen, N.J./North Bergen) became the first Felician University female to ever break 19 minutes in a 5,000-meter cross-country race, leading the Golden Falcons to a third-place finish out of 29 non-Division-I schools at the Highlander Challenge. The meet was hosted by New Jersey Institute of Technology on Saturday morning at Branch Brook Park.
The course at Branch Brook annually staged by NJIT is known for being flat and fast, and this year was no different. All five of the Felician scorers ran times placing them among the top 20 for 5,000 meters in the 19-year history of the Golden Falcons' program.
Morales clocked in at a school-record 18 minutes, 52 seconds. The previous mark of 19:18 was set by current Felician assistant coach Sabrina Roldan on Oct. 5, 2013, also at Branch Brook. Five of the current top 10 5K times in Felician history have now come at meets hosted by NJIT, including the top three.
Morales placed fourth out of 277 entries on the Division II/Division III side of the scoring. The next four Golden Falcons to cross the finish line did so in a 34-second pack. Sophomore Jillian O'Brien (Bogota, N.J./Bogota) finished 23rd. Her time of 20:06 now ranks sixth in school annals.
Freshman Bri Balderas (Somerset, N.J./Franklin) was Felician's No. 3 runner for the second consecutive weekend. Her 20:28 was good for 39th place. Following closely were freshman Hadeel Alshujaieh (Clifton, N.J./Clifton) (42nd, 20:37) and junior Jane Burgoyne (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock) (44th, 20:40).
The Golden Falcons totaled 145 points, edging fourth-place St. Joseph's (N.Y.) College by eight. Lock Haven University easily won the meet, scoring 30 points and placing seven runners among the top 15. St. Thomas Aquinas College (71) also out-pointed Felician, which was the top team out of three Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference members in attendance.
Lock Haven sophomore Laurel Moyer ran 18:23 to claim the individual championship, completing the course 14 seconds faster than teammate Cadie Kiser.
On the Division I side, Seton Hall University was a comfortable winner over six opponents with 22 points, with Pirate freshman Emma Newgarden running first overall in 18:13.
Felician next competes at the St. Joseph's College Invitational on Oct. 13 in Kings Park, N.Y.