The Hawks men’s and women’s cross country teams soared this past weekend during the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) championship races.
Saturday, Nov. 2: the day the teams had worked tirelessly for all year had finally come. New Paltz had the privilege of hosting nine schools for this year’s SUNYAC Championship races at the Hudson Valley Sports Dome, and the day did not disappoint.
The men kicked the day off with their 8K at 10:45 a.m., placing fifth overall with 140 points. Considering they battled an entire season with injuries and other mishaps among team members, everyone should be proud of the way they persevered in this race and how resilient they were in the face of this season’s adversity.
Second-year Conor Van Riper not only led the way for the Hawks, but led his way to his first All-SUNYAC selection. To get an All-SUNYAC selection, one must place within the top 15. He placed 15th overall with a time of 26.22.0. Fourth-year Jack Wilson was right on his tail, placing 16th with a time of 26.23.7.
Fourth-year captain Matt Whitworth also contributed for the Hawks, placing 28th overall with a time of 27.01.4. Second-years Jake Meyers and Chris D’Antonio came placed in the men’s top five, finishing 31st and 52nd with times of 27.17.1 and 28.17.1, respectively. Amusingly, the two Ryan’s on the team came in one-after-another, with first-year Ryan Carrick placing 54th and third-year Ryan Tso finishing 55th.
Next up was the women’s 6K race at 11:45 a.m. Little did the ladies know, they were about to make program history with their best performance of all time. Placing second overall, New Paltz earned 50 points, only behind SUNY Geneseo who scored 23 points for both races.
New Paltz can proudly proclaim that three of their women finished in the top 10, and four finished within the top 15. In typical fashion, fourth-year captain Emily Cavanagh dominated, and placed third overall with a score of 23.04.3. Third-year Cassandra Williams finished right behind her with a time of 23.15.0. Second-year Clara Flores-Reininger placed 10th, and fourth-year Vanessa Morgan finished 14th, joining their teammates in earning All-SUNYAC recognition. First-year Ripley Insalaco placed 23rd with a time of 24.48.6 in her first ever championship race.
In addition to the program making history, Williams had some great accomplishments of her own. Not only was her score a career best for the conference meet, Williams qualifies as a 2019 Cross Country Hall of Fame Inductee, joining Cavanagh who was inducted in 2018. As if those achievements weren’t enough, Williams is this year’s recipient of the SUNYAC Elite 20.
The SUNYAC Elite 20 is an award that recognizes “the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the conference championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers,” according to the SUNYAC website.
“Academics are a very important piece of my life and so is running,” Williams said. “I was very grateful to have been recognized for both of those pieces of my life at the same time.”
When asked about her goals moving forward, Williams said she plans on staying focused and continuing to improve.
“We have another chance to make New Paltz cross country history at our regional meet in two weeks, and I am excited to see both the outcome of my individual and team performance,” Williams said. “Looking further into the future, two of the individuals ahead of me will be graduating and I’d like to move up in the SUNYAC next year.”
Willams also wanted to add that she was very proud of her teammate Vanessa Morgan’s performance at the race.
The cross country teams will head to Canton, New York, for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regional races on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 11 a.m. Will the Hawks be able to keep their momentum up as they race to the finish?