(courtesy Doug DeBiase, CACC Associate Commissioner)
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The 2019 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) men's and women's cross-country seasons get underway on Friday, Sept. 6, with multiple teams in action. A day later, all of remaining schools will tear up the race course in various regional meets.
The regular season will be a two-month build-up to the 2019 CACC Cross-Country Championship meet which will be held on Sunday, Oct. 27, at 9 a.m., at Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia. Chestnut Hill College will host that event, and then two weeks later the Jefferson Rams will serve as the host school for the NCAA Division II East Region Championship, also at Belmont.
2019 TEAM CAPSULES
BLOOMFIELD COLLEGE: The Bears' men's squad is looking to once again be competitive and vie for a championship, as the team finished second at last year's CACC Championship race. The women's team plans on being more competitive this year, as Bloomfield returns several letterwinners from a season ago.
CALDWELL UNIVERSITY: Senior Frank Durkin is the top returner on the men's side as he finished in 34th place with an 8K time of 29:52 at the 2018 CACC Championship. Seniors Paiton Knowles and Megan Barreto are the top returners on the women's side. Knowles finished in 47th place with a 5K time of 23:45 at last year's CACC Championship. Barreto finished in 50th place with a time of 23:58.
CHESTNUT HILL COLLEGE: First-year head coach Daryl Nelson will look to a proven class of seniors to help him guide the Griffins to success in 2019. Led by two-time All-CACC performer Zigmund Fisher (2018; 6th, 28:02.7), Chestnut Hill College placed sixth (6th of 14, 179 points) at the 2018 CACC Men's Cross Country Championship. Coach Nelson will look to Fisher and his classmates, seniors Jonathan Boc, Jake DiCello, Alex Lynch, and Aaron Morris, to lead a large freshman class through the rigors of collegiate competition. The emergence of junior Taylor Neals was a huge factor in Chestnut Hill's 2018 women's success as she won the Philadelphia Metro Meet (1st, 20:50.7) and served as one of two Griffins who secured the program's first All-CACC finishes (Neals 2018; 9th, 21:00.1). As a result, the Scarlet and Gold enjoyed a program-best third place finish (3rd of 14, 99 points) at the 2018 CACC Women's Cross Country Championship. Four additional returnees -- sophomore Leica Augustin, junior Irene Canizares-Llull, sophomore Brittany Kahhan, and junior Jessica Scalen -- and four freshmen join Neals on a roster that will enter its first season under first-year head coach Daryl Nelson in 2019.
CONCORDIA COLLEGE: The cross-country program features five returners from the 2018 squad, highlighted by Yeisy Cruz who was the first women's cross country runner to cross the finish line three times last year. It is a familiar schedule for both cross country teams, with the Clippers running an identical schedule to what they had in 2018.
DOMINICAN COLLEGE: Kimberly Piard takes over as the new head coach for teams in 2019. The men's team returns a veteran squad including seniors Rollens Florvil and David Jeffers. On the women's side, the core nucleus of returners, including junior Andrea Nardone.
FELICIAN UNIVERSITY: Jake Thoden transferred to Felician and immediately became the Golden Falcons' No. 1 runner in 2018. Now a senior, Thoden looks to challenge for an all-conference spot. Junior Joel Garcia expects a re-emergence. Felician's frontrunner in 2017, Garcia's training time the next summer was limited by injury and personal reasons. A full summer of training has Garcia confident in surpassing his freshman times. Juniors Jason Argueta and Danny Driscoll are solid mid-pack returnees and classmate Bryan Acevedo is back after a year off. Led by four newcomers, the Felician women finished fourth in last year's CACC Championship meet after placing 13th in 2017. The Golden Falcons return their top six runners from the 2018 league race. Sophomore Shayla Morales is the first Golden Falcon to be named CACC Women's Cross-Country Rookie of the Year after finishing second to Post's Kendall Fitzgerald in the 2018 conference race. Sophomore Bri Balderas missed all-conference by one spot a year ago, and the Golden Falcons look for a breakout year from another sophomore, Hadeel Alshujaieh. Veterans Jane Burgoyne, a senior, and junior Jillian O'Brien give Felician its deepest top five in many years.
GEORGIAN COURT UNIVERSITY: The coaching staff is extremely excited to get the cross country season started. The Lions are expecting big things from both teams as they return everyone from the year before. The men had their highest finish in the Conference last year with a fourth-place finish. The women, although they had a step back in terms of place, gained valuable experience with a freshman-dominant roster. This year both sides add some young talent with an experienced returning roster.
GOLDEY-BEACOM COLLEGE: Junior Chauncey Nichols is back as the lone returnee on the men's side and the only male for the Lightning to compete in all seven races. Nichols once again should be one of the team's bright spots after ending last season 14th in 31.56.3 at the GBC Fall Classic, 55th in 31:03.49 at the Dutchmen Invitational and 61st in 32:42.8 at the CACC Championship. The women's side gets strong leadership from junior Cara Jones, who competed in six races last year and is one of the squad's most vital members. A great teammate and an intense competitor, Jones last season ended 13th in 25:57.1 at the GBC Fall Classic, 55th in 24:19.4 at the CACC Championship and 61st in 24:46.78 at the Dutchmen Invitational. Senior Mary Ann Jones is the lone returnee who competed in all seven races last year and again should make a huge impact. She finished 10th last season in 24:55.1 at the GBC Fall Classic and 41st in 23:11.8 at the CACC Championship.
HOLY FAMILY UNIVERSITY: The men's team is expected to return several letterwinners from a year ago. DeHavalan Watts, who earned All-CACC honors last season by finishing among the top 15 at the conference championship, is slated to return for the women's squad.
JEFFERSON: The men's team will look for the next group of athletes to step up as they return just three of their top seven runners from a season ago as the Rams finished third at the CACC Championship. The women's team is poised for another title opportunity with six of their top seven back. Erin Young placed third at last year's conference championship, and was the highest team finisher in the meet to help lead Jefferson to its fifth-straight conference title. The Rams will host the NCAA East Region Championships at Belmont Plateau for the first time in over three decades in early November.
NYACK COLLEGE: Both the men's and women's teams must replace several letterwinners from the 2018 campaign, but will look to earn an upper-half finish in the league once again in 2019.
POST UNIVERSITY: George Moukas, who earned All-CACC honors by placing 15th at the CACC Championship last fall, is expected to return for the Eagles men's team. Kendall Fitzgerald, who has already established herself as one of the finest women's cross country runners in league history, will look to do the remarkable this season by winning the CACC individual championship for the fourth-consecutive year.
UNIVERSITY OF THE SCIENCES: USciences tied for seventh place finish at last year's CACC Championship, which was tied for its highest finish since 2011. The Devils return 6 of 9 runners from that squad, while also bringing in three recruits. Rising junior William Hallinan will lead USciences after finishing second for the Devils in all six of their races in 2018, including improving from a 70th place finish in the CACC Championship as a freshman to a 28th place finish as a sophomore. The women's team has now placed in the top-half of the CACC Championship field in 16 straight years after a fifth-place finish in 2018. The Devils boast two All-CACC performers in rising senior Elizabeth Sauers and rising redshirt-junior Gabby Moss, the latter of whom placed 12th at the 2018 Championship after missing 2017 due to injury.
WILMINGTON UNIVERSITY: After winning its fifth CACC Championship in the last seven years, the Wilmington University men's cross country team will look to rebound after losing its top two finishers in the conference event and the NCAA Regional meet, including back-to-back CACC Runner of the Year Mark Corrigan. The Wildcats do, however, return the reigning CACC Rookie of the Year Garrett Checchi (7th at CACC's) as well as All-CACC member Brandon Cruz (12th place as a freshman), and James Kennedy (24th overall). Sixteenth-year head coach Keith Jones also returns senior Jayvin Davis to the team. Following tying a team best second place finish at the CACC Championships last season, the Wilmington women's cross country team returns one of its All-CACC performers in junior Alexa Crowell (7th place). Jones returns four of the five runners that scored at the CACC's, including sophomores Grace Slate (18th at CACC's), Rosemary Gillam (24th at CACC's), and junior Julia Merritt (40th at CACC's). Jones brings back one senior, Emily Kockott, on an otherwise young squad as well.
ABOUT THE CACC
The Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference is an NCAA Division II Conference composed of 14 institutions in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The member institutions are Bloomfield College, Caldwell University, Chestnut Hill College, Concordia (N.Y.) College, Dominican (N.Y.) College, Felician University, Georgian Court University, Goldey-Beacom College, Holy Family University, Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University), Nyack College, Post University of Waterbury, University of the Sciences, and Wilmington University.