Morales, Women's Cross-Country Enjoy Record-Setting Day At NJIT

Award presentation under tent.
Felician women's cross-country accepts its third-place award following the 2019 Technology Challenge.

NEWARK, N.J. – Felician University sophomore Shayla Morales (North Bergen, N.J./North Bergen) broke her own school women's 5,000-meter record to lead the Golden Falcons to third place out of 29 teams at the Technology Cross-Country Challenge, hosted by New Jersey Institute of Technology on Saturday morning at Branch Brook Park.  

The course laid out annually by NJIT at Branch Brook is notoriously flat and fast. Felician and the field took advantage. The Golden Falcons entered the day with six times in the 20-year history of its program of less than 20 minutes. On Saturday, six more runners eclipsed that standard.

Morales completed the course in 18 minutes, 40 seconds, besting her previous mark – set last year in the same race on the same course – by 12 seconds. She placed eighth overall out of 252 entrants and was Felician's frontrunner for the first time this season.

Freshman Ashley Linares (Passaic, N.J./Paramus Catholic) clocked an 18:51 and was 14th. Her time was a second better than Morales' from a year ago, establishing a Felician freshman 5K record.

The Golden Falcons were the top non-Division-I team in the field. Their 123 points were behind only meet champion Seton Hall University (54) and runner-up Wagner College (112). Felician finished ahead of six other Division-I institutions, including edging the host Highlanders by one point. The Golden Falcons also out-pointed four fellow members of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.

Perhaps most emblematic of Felician's surge was its No. 3 runner, junior Vanessa Saiboo (Jersey City, N.J./County Prep). After running 27:00 and finishing in 175th place in the 2018 Technology Challenge, Saiboo ran the fifth-fastest time in program history on Saturday. Her 19:23, more than a 7 ½ minute year-over-year improvement, left her in 31st place.

Sliding into the final two Golden Falcon scoring slots were junior Jillian O'Brien (Bogota, N.J./Bogota) and sophomore Hadeel Alshujaieh (Clifton, N.J./Clifton). O'Brien was 35th in 19:29, while Alshujaieh ran a 19:40 and placed 42nd. All five Felician scorers recorded personal-best times.

Felician senior captain Jane Burgoyne (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock), while not figuring into the scoring, still registered a personal record of 19:57. The time is good for No. 11 on the Golden Falcons' all-time 5K list. Of the 12 Felician sub-20:00 5K performances in program history, nine have come in a meet hosted by NJIT at Branch Brook.

Wagner senior Sara Carney was the individual champion in 17:59. She crossed the finish line 11 seconds ahead of runner-up Alexandra Smith, a freshman from Suffolk Community College.

The Golden Falcons are slated to tackle a 6,000-meter course on Oct. 12 at the Jack St. Clair Memorial, hosted by the Jefferson Rams at Belmont Plateau.