Cross Country Teams Ready To Kick-Off Championship Season
MADISON, N.J. – The 2009 fall Landmark Conference
Championship season will get underway Saturday Oct. 31 when
Catholic University hosts the 2009 Landmark Cross Country
Championships at the United States Soldiers and Airmans Home in
Washington, D.C. Women’s and men’s team champions will
be crowned at the meet, while competitors will also vie for
individual first-place awards. Competition begins at 10 a.m. with
the women’s race 6K, with the men’s 8K race following
at 11 a.m. There will be an awards ceremony at approximately 12:30
The day will get started with the women’s championship where Susquehanna has enjoyed a strong regular season and has to be considered the favorite to defend its team title. The Crusaders have the majority of its point producers back from the team that bested the field by 21 points last season. The duo of host Catholic and Scranton seem to be the most likely contenders to the Crusader, depending on how the race shakes out. Scranton was third in the standings a year ago, but have most of its point scorers back, and led by the duo of Stephanie Huth and Colleen Roe have put together a solid season, including finishing just one place behind Susquehanna at the Cougar Classic earlier in the year. Catholic posted a third-place finish at the Landmark meet last year and won the Catholic Invitational on this course in early October against three other Landmark squads. Last year’s runner-up and 2007 Champions Juniata could also challenge for a top spot led by senior Laura Rupprecht who has twice finished in the top-four at the Championships.
In the men’s Championship Susquehanna is looking to become the first Landmark team to win three-consecutive titles after the Crusaders topped the field in both 2007 and 2008. Results this season suggest the Crusaders are a strong favorite to claim that third title as they have numerous high finishes, including winning the Cougar Classic with two other Landmark contenders in the field. Susquehanna is led by two-time defending Outstanding Performer Paul Thistle, but have a strong pack of runners who can all challenge for All-Conference honors. There are several teams who hope to challenge for the top spot and knock off Susquehanna. Juniata has finished as the Landmark runners-up each of the past two seasons and brings back most of the team that was just eight points behind Susquehanna last season. Moravian is led by Connor Skutches who will likely finish near the front of the pack and has fared well in several meets in which Susquehanna also competed. The United States Merchant Marine Academy has benefited from the addition of several strong freshmen and could be a factor in the team title race with those newcomers.
The women’s individual title could be a battle between Susquehanna teammates Alycia Woodruff and Casey Hess. Woodruff is the two-time Outstanding Performer, having won the race in both years of the Championship. However, Hess, last year’s Rookie of the Year, has shown big improvement in her sophomore year and has been the team’s top finisher during most of the season. Moravian sophomore Cadee Rockwell should also be in contention for the crown as she has run some of the fastest times in the conference this season at several distances. Rupprecht and Roe also have times near the top of the Landmark charts this season, and will try to challenge for the top spots.
The men’s individual championship race the first two seasons has been a battle between Thistle and Scranton junior Chris Wasnetsky, with Thistle placing first and Wasnetsky second each of the past two years. This year Wasnetsky has posted the faster times of the two competitors during the regular season, and it should be an excellent dual for the top spot. A host of competitors have also run top times throughout the season and will try to challenge for top finishes. Juniata’s Matthew Bailey, USMMA’s Rob Edsall and Moravian’s Skutches could all be involved, as could Wasnetsky’s teammate Jason Bohenek and Thistle’s running mates David Haklar and Ian Quinlan.
The Landmark Cross Country Championships will be the first of six fall sports that will crown Landmark champions in the coming weeks. Landmark postseason play will begin with semifinals on Wednesday Nov. 4, with Championships following on Saturday Nov. 7, with the winners earning automatic bids for the NCAA Division III Tournaments. The Landmark Cross Country teams will take part in NCAA competition in the NCAA Regional Championships on Nov. 14, with teams and individuals having the opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships. In 2008 the Landmark sent three competitors to the NCAA Championships.