For the first time in 20 years, the now No. 9 nationally ranked Rensselaer men’s cross country team received an invitation to compete at the NCAA Division III Championship Meet, the top meet in the country for Division III schools, following their second place victory at the NCAA Atlantic Regional Meet on Saturday. The meet will be held at Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville, Kentucky, this Saturday, November 19.
The women’s cross country team, after being selected as an at-large team for their third place performance at Regional’s, will be making their third appearance in school history at Saturday’s National Championship. The women tied with Ithaca College in points, each team earning 121. Never before have both teams competed together at National’s.
Out of 303 runners from 49 different schools, four-time 2016 Men’s Cross Country Performer of the Week senior Ben Fazio led the Engineers in second place overall in the 8000 meter race, finishing five seconds behind the winner from the State University of New York at Geneseo, Isaac Garcia-Cassani, in an average mile pace of 4:54. Sophomore Grant O’Connor crossed in third in 24:23.6, just three seconds behind his teammate.
Also helping the Engineers earn 87 points were sophomore Sean O’Connor and senior Garrett Davis, third and fourth for their team, and 14th and 33rd overall respectively. O’Connor finished with a time of 24:50.5 and Davis clocked out at 25:13.0. Both athletes earned collegiate career personal records that day.
Junior Jaime Lord headed the No. 16 ranked women’s team on Saturday, running the 6000 meter course in 20:46.8, a 5:35 average mile pace, to earn third out of 304 racers from 50 schools. Next for the Engineers was the pack of senior Maddie Dery, senior Mary West, and sophomore Karina Bolton, each finishing within a second of each other and placing 23rd, 24th, and 26th respectively. Dery crossed nearly one minute after Lord.
Both the men’s team and the women’s team from SUNY Geneseo triumphed over the competition to earn first place regional trophies, earning 51 points on the men’s side and 90 points on the women’s side. The second place women’s team was the State University of New York at Oneonta with 112 points, while the College of New Jersey won the men’s team third place honor with 169 points.