PHILADELPHIA – Felician University freshman Ashley Linares (Passaic, N.J./Paramus Catholic) has been named the 2019 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Women's Cross-Country Rookie of the Year. The CACC announced its women's and men's all-conference teams and special award winners following the conclusion of the league championship races on Sunday morning at Belmont Plateau.
Linares was the top rookie finisher, and was fourth overall, on the women's side on Sunday. During a heavy, steady rain, she traversed the 5,000-meter Belmont Plateau course in 20 minutes, 33 seconds. She won the award by five seconds, finishing by that margin ahead of Georgian Court University freshman and fifth-place finisher Alina Chant.
"The last time Alina and I were head to head, she outkicked me," Linares said. "This time I went out hard and she didn't catch me. Even though I exceeded my own expectations the first two times we were head-to-head this year, she beat me both times, and the coaches did not let me forget it."
Linares and sophomore Shayla Morales (North Bergen, N.J./North Bergen), who was the individual runner-up for the second consecutive year, led the Golden Falcons to a second-place finish in team standings. Felician improved from fourth a year ago and 13th in 2017 in the same meet.
Morales and Linares were two of a program-record four Felician females to land on the 2019 all-CACC team. More information is available at https://www.caccathletics.org/sports/xc/2019-20/releases/1027WChamp.
"Ashley behaves and handles pressure like a much older runner," said second-year Felician head coach Elson Smajlaj. "She's come a long way in a short period of time, has bought into our program, and has a solid team around her to push her."
Linares is the second Felician female to win the CACC Rookie of the Year Award in cross-country, joining Morales last year. Two Golden Falcon men have claimed the honor – Jay Rodgers (2007) and James Vander Wiele (2008).
Felician University engages more than 2,400 undergraduate, graduate, and adult students through programs in Arts & Sciences, Business, Nursing, and Education. Universal Franciscan values of respect, social justice, and compassion form an inclusive foundation for transforming the lives of tomorrow's leaders. Felician University was ranked 3rd-best return on investment for private colleges in New Jersey in 2018 by the PayScale.com College ROI Report and is ranked the No. 1 safest college campus in the state by niche.com. Felician University also sponsors 14 varsity intercollegiate sports that compete at the NCAA Division II level. To learn more about Felician University please visit www.felician.edu.