By Isabella Darcy
The College’s cross country teams achieved high rankings at the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Cross Country Championships on Oct. 28. The women’s team claimed first place, winning the conference championship for the second year in a row, and the men's team finished second, a single point behind Rowan University.
Stockton University hosted the championship, during which nine women’s teams competed in a 6K race, and seven men’s teams competed in an 8K.
The College’s women's team emerged victorious in their race; the Lions’ first five athletes to finish scored a total of 50 team points, beating Stockton University by one.
Freshman Naesha Gadie was the first of the Lions to finish, placing fifth overall with a time of 23:47.8.
Also finishing early enough to earn team points for the Lions were senior Cassidy Quinn in seventh place, senior Katherine Rice in 11th, senior Emily Hoegler in 12th and senior Salini Iyer in 15th.
Iyer’s 15th-place finish was crucial to the championship. The College and Stockton were tied, 35-35, by the time four athletes had crossed the finish line for each school. The championship's winner would be decided based on which of the schools' fifth athletes finished first.
Iyer crossed the finish line with a time of 24:33.9, securing the win for the College as Stockton’s fifth finisher trailed only a few seconds behind, ending with a time of 24:44.6 in sixteenth place.
Both the women’s and men’s teams had six athletes finish in the top 20 in their respective races.
The men’s team ended the meet with 34 team points, claiming second place.
Sophomore Brandon Chen, who was named NJAC Rookie of the Year, was first to cross the finish line for the Lions. Chen placed fourth overall with a time of 26:13.5.
Junior Matt Granizo and senior Brian Micco were right behind Chen, earning team points for the Lions in fifth and sixth place respectively.
Just 10.1 seconds after Micco finished, junior Michael Rodriguez became the Lions’ fourth athlete to cross the finish line. Rodriguez placed eighth.
“Our performance at the conference championship meet on Saturday demonstrated the level of commitment we all have to this program and to each other,” Rodriguez said. “It feels like a true brotherhood. I’m certain that everyone representing the College gave everything they had and that we wanted the win above all.”
The fifth and final athlete to score team points for the Lions on Saturday was sophomore Kevin Matthews, who finished eleventh.
“Despite the result, our mentalities haven’t changed and we are looking forward to pursuing our final goal of the season in winning the Metro Region Championship on Nov. 11,” Rodriguez said.