In their penultimate meets of the season, then men’s and women’s cross-country teams competed at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship last weekend, held at Franklin Park in Boston. Both teams had solid performances, featuring countless personal feats. The women’s team placed 12th overall out of 36 teams, one spot better than predicted by its regional ranking. Colgate defeated New Hampshire and Quinnipiac for the first time under Head Coach Laura Nardelli and placed five spots better than last year.
“It was good to beat teams we were supposed to and some we weren’t supposed to,” Nardellli said. “It was really nice to beat Dartmouth who we recruit against a lot.”
Leading the charge was senior Elizabeth Kennedy, who “had the race of her life” according to Nardelli. She placed 25th with a time of 21:30 and averaged five minutes and 47 seconds per mile. Also, she placed the highest of any Colgate runner at this event during Nardelli’s tenure. First-year runner Stacey Marion also had a solid race, finishing 43rd overall with a time of 21:50. Marion was the ninth-fastest first-year competitor in the field and was followed closely by senior Kathryn Marvel, as well as, juniors Kristen Kiraly and Jessica Kielty. All three ran personal-best times and placed 81st, 84th and 86th, respectively. Marvel dropped 2:29 from her performance at this meet last season, while Kiraly shed 1:10 off her time and Kielty dropped 1:49 off her 2006 Northeast Regional Championship race. But if one really wants to know how much the Raiders improved from last season, consider this: Liz Crowley ’07 finished the 2006 NCAA Northeast Regional Championship with a time of 23:22, which led all Colgate runners. This year, a whopping six Raiders eclipsed that mark.
“I’m really excited about the improvement we’ve made over the last couple of years. Having all the kids run one to two-minute personal bests is something special,” Nardelli said. “They’re all proud to wear the Colgate jersey and it shows.”
Colgate ends its season on Saturday at the ECAC Championship, held at the legendary Van Cortlandt Park in New York. The Raiders will compete in the University division as they attempt to defend last year’s title.
On the men’s side, the Raiders came out and exceeded expectations despite missing a few key runners due to sickness. All the runners ran personal-bests. Colgate was led by its star sophomore Lyle Tolli, who finished 29th in his first cross-country season and helped the team place 20th out of 38 teams.
“Whenever you lose a runner like Mike Hanlon (who finished 11th at this meet last season) you expect to drop back in the following years,” Head Coach Art McKinnon said. “To stay the same and place 20th like last year is great. The credit definitely goes out to the whole team and our five scorers.”
Tolli ran a stellar time of 30:46 and averaged 4:58 per mile, finishing 30 seconds away from qualifying for the NCAA National Championships. Junior Emmett Weatherford, who hit the tape in 32:00 for 91st place out of 230 runners, came in second for Colgate. The Hawaii native improved 32 spots from his finish in 2006. Junior Tim Drucker, first-year Griffith Cannon and rookie Grant Stauffer finished the race within four seconds of each other. Drucker came in at 33:05, Cannon crossed the line at 33:07 and Stauffer finished two seconds behind his classmate. Senior Jeff Tufts ran a tough and noteworthy race, moving up 13 spots and dropping three minutes and 30 seconds from his performance at this meet last year.
“All six runners had their best race of the year. I was very pleased with everyone’s performances,” McKinnon said. “They executed the plan knowing they had to run another race this weekend.”
The men’s team, which has aspirations for a top-five finish, will also close out its season at the ECAC Championship.