NEWARK, Del. – The 2017 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Women's Cross-Country Championship race could not have come at a worse time for Felician University.
With its six-member pack fighting various illnesses and injuries, Felician finished in 13th place in the CACC meet, hosted by Goldey-Beacom College on Sunday morning at White Clay Creek State Park. The Golden Falcons totaled 351 points, 70 behind 12th-place Goldey-Beacom. All 14 CACC member schools sponsor women's cross-country, but Concordia (N.Y.) College was incomplete.
"Emotionally, we've asked a lot of these young women this season," said third-year Felician head coach Rob DeCarlo Jr. "When you've had to hold most of your team out of recent practices for treatment and rehab/recovery with the athletic trainer just to get them to the startling line, it's hard to expect much more than their best efforts."
Eighty-eight runners completed the 5,000-meter course. Sophomore Jane Burgoyne (Glen Rock, N.J./Glen Rock) led the Golden Falcons' efforts with a time of 23:26. She crossed the finish line in 58th place. Classmate and co-captain Valentina Gonzalez (Wood-Ridge, N.J./Wood-Ridge) also broke 24 minutes, placing 64th in 23:58.
Senior co-captain Kelly Murphy (Cinnaminson, N.J./Cinnaminson) was Felician's No. 3 performer. Her 25:24 left her in 75th place. Nineteen seconds later, Golden Falcon freshman Kayla Hightower (Camden, N.J./Camden) registered a 76th place result.
Freshman Vanessa Saiboo (Jersey City, N.J./County Prep) took the final scoring slot, tacking on 78 points to Felician's score with a time of 27:07. Junior JeanMarie Kaminski (Carteret, N.J./Saint Dominic Academy), a sprinter for the track & field team, took a try at distance running to help the cross-country squad this season. In her first CACC cross-country meet, she clocked in at 30:37 and placed 86th.
"Our team did the best it could on an unfamiliar course and under uncertain circumstances," DeCarlo said. "They were left no choice but to adopt the mantra of 'just survive,' and they did. They did what they needed to do in order to ensure future opportunities for their future teammates."
By CACC rules, the first 15 finishers were automatically named all-conference. The Golden Falcons have not claimed all-CACC performer since Kassie Topp in 2014.
The Jefferson Rams (formerly Philadelphia University) won their fourth consecutive CACC championship, easily outscoring Wilmington (Del.) University, 49-115.
2017 CACC WOMEN'S CROSS-COUNTRY AWARDS
Team Champion: Jefferson Rams
Runner of the Year: Kendall Fitzgerald, SO, Post
Rookie of the Year: Kalista Safer, FR, Jefferson
Coach ot the Year: Dave Thomas, Jefferson
Anne Jackson Memorial Team Sportsmanship Award: Caldwell University
Kendall Fitzgerald, Post
Dehavalan Watts, Holy Family
Elizabeth Sauers, USciences
Kalista Safer, Jefferson
Rachel Jones, Wilmington
Sarah Nellis, Jefferson
Jessica Handsaker, Georgian Court
Victoria Thaler, Caldwell
Gabrielle Brown, Wilmington
Morgan Blusewicz, Georgian Court
Andrea Nardone, Dominican
Jasmine Buckridge, Jefferson
Erin Young, Jefferson
Nicole Stough, Jefferson
Maddie Conway, Jefferson