Cross Country Strong in Regionals, Cavanagh Headed to Nationals

Third-year Emily Cavanagh will be the only Hawk competing in the NCAA Division III National meet this Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Larry Lavanti)

The men’s and women’s cross country teams took 15th and 11th place out of 44 and 45 schools, respectively, at the NCAA Atlantic Region Cross Country meet Saturday, Nov. 10.

“We have never had two teams show more guts and fight than these two teams have,” said Hawks head coach Mike Trunkes. “The performances we are seeing now are the culmination of years of hard work and accruing thousands of running miles. They are very dedicated to the sport and what it takes for competitive running success, which includes not only running, but strength work, proper nutrition and rest.”

On the women’s side, third-year Emily Cavanagh’s time of 22 minutes and 52.4 seconds gave her a 10th place finish, qualifying for the NCAA National meet Nov. 17. Although no one from the men’s side qualified for Nationals, the Hawks improved upon last year’s 25th overall finish in the Regional meet.

Second-year Cassandra Williams came in second for New Paltz on the women’s side, finishing in 23rd place. Crossing in at 23:16.9, she substantially increased her placing from 2017, where she finished 83rd with a time of 23:54.9. Williams and Cavanagh’s performances earned them All-Region honors.

After finishing as the first freshman on the women’s side in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) meet, first-year Clara Flores-Reininger placed 63rd in her first regional race as a Hawk with a time of 24:16. Mary Breckenridge (25:00.1), Third-years Amanda Engrassia and Julia Eddy rounded out New Paltz’s top-five with times of 25:24.6 and 25:33.9, respectively, while third-year Vanessa Morgan came close behind at 25:45.7.

The men were led by third-year Jack Wilson, who finished 46th overall with a time of 27:24.4. Six seconds later, first-year Conor Van Riper finished 53rd overall and second for the Hawks, coming in at 27:30.9. Although third-year Matt Whitworth (28.21.5, 102nd), fourth-year Stephen Smith 28:26, 107th) and fourth-year Barrett Celecki started strong, they could not finish within the top-100 as they rounded out New Paltz’s top-five.

“It’s been three long years since I’ve been healthy enough to run at the regional meet,” Wilson said. “It’s taken a lot of time and patience, and I’ve had to wait so long to be able to finally pile up some good performances.”

Whitworth finished 102nd for the Hawks, coming in with a time of 28:21.5. Right behind him was Smith, who finished 107th at 27:30.9. Celecki came through the finish line a minute later at 28:31.1, for 116th place.

With Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute placing first overall on the men’s side with 26 points, New Paltz’s 424 points beat conference-rival SUNY Cortland’s 499 points finish. SUNY Geneseo’s 28 points on the women’s side gave them the first place finish, while the Hawks were the second-best SUNYAC team with 340 points.

New Paltz will cheer on Cavanagh in the NCAA Division III National meet Saturday.

“Nationals has been a goal of mine since my freshman year,” Cavanagh said. “I’m expecting a lot of tough competition, but it’s an experience that I’m never going to forget.”