PHILADELPHIA – The Felician University women's cross-country team opened its 2019 season by finishing third out of 12 schools at the 41st Annual Philadelphia Metropolitan Championship, hosted by the Jefferson Rams and the Belmont Plateau Cross-Country Hall of Fame on Saturday morning at Belmont Plateau.
With 87 points, Felician was the top finisher among seven Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) members in attendance. The Golden Falcons defeated host and fourth-place Jefferson by six points. The Rams are listed at No. 9 in the preseason NCAA Division II East Region coaches' ranking and have won the last five CACC championships.
The only schools to finish ahead of Felician on Saturday were West Chester University (31 points), the No. 8 team in the Division II Atlantic Region, and Division-III Rowan University (56).
Freshman Ashley Linares (Passaic, N.J./Paramus Catholic) led the Golden Falcon pack in her collegiate debut. She completed the 5,000-meter course in 20 minutes, 52.3 seconds, and was 10th out of 105 finishers, including fourth among freshmen.
Felician's next three runners crossed the line in a pocket of 18 seconds. Sophomore Shayla Morales (North Bergen, N.J./North Bergen) was 14th among the field with a time of 21:20.1, and on her heels in 15th was junior Vanessa Saiboo (Jersey City, N.J./County Prep), who clocked a personal-best 21:23.5. Junior Jillian O'Brien (Bogota, N.J./Bogota) finished 17th in 21:38.2
Saiboo lopped more than two minutes off her previous fastest collegiate 5K time. As a freshman, she recorded a 23:46 at the 2017 Jersey Blues Invitational.
Rounding out the scoring for the Golden Falcons was senior Jane Burgoyne (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock). She ran a 22:41 and placed 36th.
Rowan junior Alyssa Sanders was the individual champion and the only runner to break 20 minutes, as she broke the tape in 19:57.3. She was 2.8 seconds faster than West Chester senior Tara McLaughlin.
Belmont Plateau is the site of the 2019 CACC Championship meet on Oct. 27 and the NCAA Division II East Regional championship on Nov. 9. Felician will compete in one more regular-season event on the course, the Jack St. Clair Memorial on Oct. 12, also hosted by Jefferson.
The Golden Falcons are off until traveling to Stockton University on Sept. 21. The women's race that day is the New Jersey Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (NJAIAW) Championship meet.