NASHUA, NH. - The 18th running of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Cross Country Championship took place on the beautiful campus of Rivier University on Saturday, October 27th. For the third consecutive time, Johnson & Wales University captured the women's team championships. Norwich University claimed the Men's Championship after having four top ten finishers.
Rivier University played hosts to the 2012 Championship, which was held in Nashua, NH for the first time since 2009. It was a beautiful day, weather-wise as there were clear skies and a temperature of around 64 degrees. The fourteen GNAC member institutions made the easy race-day adjustments and the two meets went off without a hitch.
On the men's side, after a 2nd place finish in 2011, Norwich University captured the 2012 GNAC Championship as four Cadets were able to finish in the top 10. Freshman Adam Miller (Claremont, NH) was the top Cadet runner as he crossed the line at 26:40 – third overall and was named the Rookie of the Year.
JWU senior Jeff Hartman (Osseo, MN) earned back-to-back GNAC Runner of the Year honors after pacing the field of 91 male runners with his 8k time of 25:51. Emerson's Kyle Oppenheimer (Kingston, NH) captured 2nd place with a time of 26:37 followed by Miller in third. JWU's Brian Dinan (Geneva, NY) came in fourth with a time of 26:42 and fifth place belongs to Lasell's Alex Weselcouch (East Haddam, CT) as he checked in with a 26:46 mark
Also earning GNAC All-Conference honors with their top-ten finishes were Norwich's Luke Moeckel (Bradenton, FL) , David Rosenthal (Pasadena, MD) followed by Anna Maria College's Nick Hummel (Wilbraham, MA), JWU's David Tores (Ann Arbor, MI.) and Emmanuel College's Nate Bruno (Lenox, MA).
For the second time in three years, Emmanuel's Tony DaRocha was named GNAC Coach of the Year. He took home the Men's honors back in 2010 and was selected as the Women's Coach of the Year last season.
Hummel's time of 27:22 set the Anna Maria school record for the 8K race and he is the first AMCAT to capture GNAC honors. AMCAT senior captains William Sangster and Dave Sheridan ran personal records in their second to last race of their careers. Will Sangster ran 28:34 good for 25th in the conference and Sheridan ran 31:18. Bryan Goodell rounded out the Anna Maria team finishing in 70th with a time of 34:04.
First year head coach John Nicol was proud of his team's performance, "We ran our best for the most important race of the year. We took care of business and executed perfectly. Nicky battled injury and illness to run one of the gutsiest performances of the year. Strong senior leadership from both Sangster and Sheridan led us to such a great performance."
The women's 5k race featured the Wildcats edging out runner-up Saint Joseph's College to claim their third-straight and sixth overall GNAC Cross Country Championship. JWU finished with a team total of 47 points. The Monks locked up second place with 55 points, while the second-year varsity program at Simmons College came in a third place team finish with 85 points – the second straight third place finish for the Sharks.
Saint Joseph's College sophomore Amber Dostie (Standish, ME) cruised to a 1st place win along with claiming the Runner of the Year honors for the second consecutive year. Dostie paced the field of 143 runners and finished the 5k race in 19:19. Johnson & Wales senior Laura Furaro (North Warren, NJ) finished in 2nd this year in a time of 20:04. Saint Joseph's College freshman Lauren Rabideau (Ballston Spa, NY) raced to a 3rd place time of 20:17.2. Teammate Heather Eaton (Lincolnville, ME) was just .2 behind her to finish in 4th place finish with a time of 20:17.4. Emerson College sophomore Ali Dokus (Littleton, Mass.) claimed 5th place as she crossed the line at 20:21.
Rabideau was the top Rookie Runner and earned GNAC Rookie of the Year honors while her coach Ray Puntam was selected as the 2012 GNAC Women's Cross Country Coach of the Year.
Anna Maria was paced by Michelle Guillette's (Manchester, Conn.) strong performance, the senior turned in a time of 25:25 followed closely by Rose Murphy's (Worcester, Mass.) 25:30. Junior Nicole Luce (Milford, Mass.) finished the 5k in 26:48 while Elizabeth McClennan (Harvard, Mass.) rounded out the team with a time of 27:39.
"The girls fought tough conditions and a tough course and had solid performances across the board." Said head coach John Nichol, "There is immense improvement from last year and we will look to close out the season with a strong race at regionals."