No trip to nationals, but W&M cross country teams win CAA titles

Although neither the men’s nor women’s teams qualified anyone for the NCAA Cross Country Championships at last weekend’s NCAA Southeast Region Championships, the William and Mary cross country teams concluded a successful fall season under the leadership of men’s coach Forest Braden and women’s coach Scott Jones. The highlight of the year was continuing the Tribe’s tradition of sweeping the Colonial Athletic Association team titles.

The men had a 14th-place team finish, out of 33 complete teams, under cloudy skies and 50-degree temperatures at the Winthrop Farms course for the Southeast Region at Rock Hill, South Carolina, with 360 points. North Carolina State (83 points) and Eastern Kentucky (90) were the two automatic qualifiers to the NCAA championships.

Close behind were third-place Virginia (102) and Furman (116). Other notable teams from Virginia or the CAA were Liberty (sixth, 218), Virginia Tech (eighth, 231), W&M (14th, 360), Richmond (15th, 407), George Mason (17th, 428), Elon (19th, 520) and College of Charleston (28th, 801)

Rwandan freshman James Sugira (29:26.9) of Eastern Kentucky, the Ohio Valley champ, won the 10,000-meter individual title by one second over Virginia Tech’s Peter Seufer (29:27.6). Senior Ryan McGorty of Fairfax was W&M’s top finisher in 35th place, and a time of 30:55.1, his third-straight year of being the top W&M runner at regionals.

The others on the seven-man championship squad were Patrick Lynch (56th, 31:22.4), Micah Pratt (88th, 32:00.7), Zachary Levet (89th, 32:01.4), Spencer Tsai (95th, 32:06.9), Cooper Leslie (108th, 32:21.9) and York High grad Dawson Connell (143rd, 33:07.4).

The W&M women placed 19th at the Southeast Regional, out of 33 full teams. N.C. State also won the women’s race with 70 points, and Furman (94) was the other NCAA automatic qualifier. The ACC’s Duke (139), Wake Forest (163), Virginia Tech (181) and Virginia (192) all made the top six teams.

Other notable teams, from Virginia or the CAA, were Richmond (eighth, 256), Liberty (13th, 405), George Mason (16th, 476), W&M (19th, 488), Elon (22nd, 598), James Madison (23rd, 627) and College of Charleston (29th, 827).

Individually Kenyan Dorcas Wasike of Louisville (19:42.1), the ACC champ, won over Elly Henes (19:47.6) of N.C. State (daughter of Coach Laurie Henes) for the women on the 6,000-meter course. Sophomore Lauren Kroepfl of Robbinsville, New Jersey was the top Tribe finisher, 60th overall in 21:18.5.

The rest of the W&M varsity squad was Lauren Finikiotis (82nd, 21:37.9), Liv Paxton of Rock Hill (running in front of her hometown crowd, 107th, 21:53.3), Charlotte Kowalk (121st, 22:01.5), Carina Garcia (126th, 22:05.5), senior Hope Bloxom (a Grafton High grad, 149th, 22:26.7) and Karina Tavares (177th, 22:48.3).

At the CAA Championships, two weeks earlier, the W&M men won their impressive 19th consecutive team title, the fourth-longest conference winning streak in NCAA history (and the second longest current streak, behind only Iona), although they were challenged by Northeastern. W&M won with 37 points, followed by Northeastern (48), Elon and Hofstra (each with 81), College of Charleston (128), and UNC Wilmington (176).

Overall the W&M men have won 41 conference cross country titles, behind only Wisconsin and Arkansas in NCAA history. Their 19 straight CAA titles are the most in conference history, men or women, in any sport.

The men’s winner was Kenyan Alex Masai of Hofstra, with a time of 24:00.7 for the 8,000-meter course, less than a second ahead of W&M’s Ryan McGorty (24:01.3), with his second straight CAA runner-up finish. W&M had five all-CAA team finishers, including Micah Pratt (seventh, 24:20.7), Spencer Tsai (eighth, 24:27.7), Patrick Lynch (ninth, 24:34.0) and Zachary Levet (11th, 24:41.1).

Also on the team were Cooper Leslie (16th, 24:56.5), Dawson Connell (17th, 24:56.7), Evan Goodell (19th, 24:58.0), Jack Mackey (22nd, 25:05.6), Warhill High grad Chris Short (25th, 25:22.5), John Cacciatore (28th, 25:27.8) and Grafton High grad Miles Owens (30th, 25:35.0).

The women’s CAA win was much closer, a two-point margin, 63-65, over Elon, W&M’s sixth team title in seven years, and their 23rd overall.

Following were Delaware (85), Northeastern (102), last year’s winner James Madison (111), Towson (151), College of Charleston (168), Hofstra (205) and UNC Wilmington (253).

Elon’s Coralea Geraniotis won the 6,000-meter race in 21:13.2. The W&M all-conference finishers were Lauren Finikiotis (third, 21:20.3), Lauren Kroepfl (sixth, 21:29.6) and Charlotte Kowalk (seventh, 21:33.6).

Also scoring were Liv Paxton (17th, 21:57.4) and Karina Tavares (30th, 22:19.6). The others on the team were Carina Garcia (35th, 22:27.5), Hope Bloxom (36th, 22:27.7), Deirdre Casey (40th, 22:34.5), Julia Montgomery (44th, 22:46.4), Laura LaBuschaigne (45th, 22:47.6), Anna Wasko (48th, 22:51.6) and Kate Miller (55th, 23:17.3).

The win was the W&M women’s 23rd in the CAA, in a third-place tie all-time for NCAA cross country, matching BYU, and only behind Eastern Kentucky and N.C. State. In CAA history, they trail only the men’s cross country team and the women’s tennis team for total team titles, each with 26.

Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.

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