SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University men's and women's cross country teams are looking forward to the Capital Athletic Conference championships, traveling to the University of Mary Washington on Saturday, November 1; the first race is set to begin at 11 a.m.
How we got here
The Sea Gulls have spent all season prepping for their shot at bringing the conference crown back to Salisbury, competing in five events this season. The men's team has pulled in two second-place team finishes, while placing no lower than fourth in any of the races, and the women's team began its season with a pair of fourth-place finishes, including one at the Salisbury University Fall Classic.
CAC championship history
The Salisbury men's and women's teams have combined for 17 conference championships, with the first coming in 1996 for the women and 1997 for the men. The most recent titles for the teams were in 2011 for the women and 2010 for the men. The 2011 women's championship was the fourth in four-straight years for the team, while the men had a stint of four in a row from 2005-08.
Last year's championship race
In the 2013 CAC title races, the men tied for third place with the Eagles, as both teams gathered 85 points. The Gulls were led by Nathan Austin, Thomas Burke, and Jeremy Skarda, who all finished in a five-second span in 14th, 15th, and 16th. All three runners were named to the All-CAC second team for the effort.
The Salisbury women finished the race in sixth with 154 points, led by Olivia Cloud's 22nd-place finish; she ran the race in 24:31.20.
Leading the way (Men)
SU's men are led by a group of five runners, made up of seniors Brandon Horning, George Martinez, and Skarda and juniors Burke and Eric Wood. The quintet has paced the Gulls in each event this season, with each runner placing in the top six SU finishers in all races and placing all in the top five in three of the five total contests. Burke has finished first out of the Sea Gulls in three races, while placing second in the other two; his best finish came in the Delaware University Invitational, placing sixth (27:27.23).
Leading the way (Women)
Cloud, the team's lone senior, has paced the women's team through the season, finishing as SU's top scorer in three races, including the Don Cathcart Invitational at home at Winter Place Park. Freshman Jessica Lane has helped to lead a young Sea Gull squad, coming on strong with two top-scoring performances to start the season, including the best finish for the women all season in eighth at the Delaware Invitational (25:32.10).
CAC Poll (Men)
In a conference pre-season poll, voted on by the CAC cross country coaches, the Sea Gull men were picked to finish the race in third with 65 points and two first-place votes. Christopher Newport University (77 points and five first-place votes) and York College of Pennsylvania (70 points and three first-place votes) were picked to finish No. 1 and No. 2 in the conference. SU edged out Mary Washington for the No. 3 spot by one point, as the Eagles came in at No. 4.
CAC Poll (Women)
The Salisbury women were voted into a tie for fourth with Marymount (Va.) University in the preseason rankings, as each school garnered 49 points. St. Mary's College of Maryland trailed at No. 6 by just three points with 46. The top-three teams were ranked within five points of one another, as CNU and York finished No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, by only one point; both teams earned four-first place votes, but the Captains outscored the Spartans 75-74. Mary Washington took No. 3 with 70 points and two first-place votes.
The CAC provides strong competition in both races, as the men's side will feature freshman Michael Myers from Southern Virginia University; he has been named the conference's men's athlete of the week three times, the only runner to earn the honor multiple weeks.
The women's race will feature sophomore Teagan Young from Mary Washington and senior Jess Miller from York. Both runners have won the CAC women's athlete of the week on multiple occasions, with Young garnering the honor three times and Miller grabbing it twice.
The NCAA Division III Mideast Regionals will follow the conference championships, taking place on Saturday, November 15. The races are set to start at 11 a.m.