YORK, Pa. - - After finishing second in the first two years as members of the conference, Christopher Newport broke through in 2015, placing five runners among the top 12 in the championship race to capture its first CAC Men's Cross Country Championship. With seven all-conference performers back in the fold this fall, it's no surprise that the Captains were the unanimous pick to repeat in a vote among conference head coaches.
CNU collected nine first-place votes and 81 points to sit atop the poll as the unanimous favorite. York ranked second with one first-place vote and 70 points, followed closely by Salisbury with 68 points. Mary Washington was fourth with 57 points, with St. Mary's (45 points) and Marymount (43) neck-and-neck in fifth and sixth, respectively.
Rounding out the 2016 CAC Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll were Frostburg State in seventh with 32 points, Wesley in eighth with 24 points, Southern Virginia in ninth with 17 points, and Penn State Harrisburg in 10th with 13 points.
Christopher Newport placed second at the NCAA South/Southeast Regional last fall, becoming the first CAC men's cross country team to qualify for the NCAA National Championship meet. Six CAC runners earned All-Region recognition with top-35 finishes. The Captains went on to finish 32nd at the NCAA meet.
A strong contingent of runners return in 2016, as all but one of last year's all-conference honorees are back in the fold this season. Expect another highly-competitive race for top spots in the conference this fall.
Penn State Harrisburg will serve as the host of the CAC Championships for the first time. The championship meet is slated for Saturday, Oct. 29.
Here's a quick glance at each team heading into the 2016 season, which begins for several teams today.
CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT is coming off of the program's first berth in the NCAA Championships since 1994. After claiming the CAC title last year, head coach Matthew Barreau's team features a slew of familiar faces, including four All-Region performers. Reigning CAC Cross Country Athlete of the YearGrayson Reid joins fellow All-South runners Andrew Benfer, Billy Rabil, and Daniel Read to anchor the veteran contingent.
FROSTBURG STATE returns a wealth of talent and depth for seventh-year head coach Dale Luy. Leading the charge will be sophomore Robert Romanoand senior Xavier Alvarez. Romano posted a win at Westmoreland last year and was Frostburg's top finisher in six meets. Meanwhile, Alvarez was FSU's top finisher at Hood and was the second finisher in three more meets. Sophomore Matt Whitley should be part of Frostburg's top five runners, while sophomore transfer Tom Burklow has been very impressive during the preseason.
MARY WASHINGTON enters the season with a young roster intent on returning toward the top of the CAC standings. The Eagles will look to All-CAC runner Ben Sorensen to lead a young group, which includes top returnees Chris Sandoval, Calhoun Stirling, Danny Reed, Kevin McCrathy, Chris Markham, J.P. Burklow and Kevin Jones.
MARYMOUNT will be focused on improving individual performances in 2016. Returner Joel Juarez will look to build upon his top-30 finish in last year's CAC championship race, while a host of newcomers look to make their own name in the conference. Leading the Saints' crusade will be first year Marymount Head coach Brian Cunningham.
PENN STATE HARRISBURG will look to senior Edgar Makimoto who led the Lions last season for their third year in the CAC. Harrisburg will depend on newcomers Scott Mundis and Joshua Cahill to lead the squad. Penn State Harrisburg will also host the 2016 CAC Cross Country Championships for the first time in school history.
ST. MARY'S brings a strong contingent of 17 runners into 2016, including 12 letterwinners. Team captains Sam Coomes and Scott Zimmerman and the team's lone senior, Eric Ortiz, are expected to push the team as the Seahawks hope to break into the top four at the CAC championships after two consecutive fifth-place finishes.
SALISBURY heads into the 2016 season with a trio of upper classmen, Matt Hoerr, Malcolm Milton, and Connor Hessilbirg, that is expected to lead a young pack of Sea Gulls this year striving for the program's 11th conference championship. Milton and Hessilbirg each garnered All-CAC honors in 2015 after finishing in seventh and eighth, respectively, at the CAC championship. Sophomore Billy Kirk came on strong at the end of the year, placing 12th at the conference meet for all-conference recognition and league Rookie of the Year honors, as well, while classmate Connor Masteran scored a top-25 finish in the CAC meet last season and looks to build on that success.
First-year head coach Clint May, an 18-time coach of the year in Montana, became SOUTHERN VIRGINIA's sixth head coach in 19 years. Under his direction the Knights are in a good position, and look forward to the CAC and NCAA post-season races, since becoming full Division-III members on Sept. 1. The men return the majority of their team, led by senior Jefferson Chandler. John Leake, Dameon Wardle and Travis Chisholm are also on the roster.
Ja'mier Bailey leads WESLEY into the 2016 season as the squad's top harrier. Luis Arteaga returns to the roster after missing last season while overseas on deployment. The pair will need to lead a freshman-laden roster to success in their campaign this year.
YORK brings a young and talented squad into the 2016 season. The Spartans have three juniors that lead the team last year in both the Capital Atlantic Conference championships and the Mideast Regional championship. The Spartans are looking to battle for a top spot in the CAC Championships and build on a top ten finish at regionals last year. Junior Grant Dell placed second overall in the CAC Championship meet finishing with a personal best time of 25:26:2. Dell earned first team All-CAC honors last year, the second year in a row that he earned a top seven finish in the conference. Junior Alex Smith is another returning all-conference finisher as he was a first team All-CAC after finishing fifth at the conference championships. Smith also earned a top 50 finish at the regional championships. Junior Andy MacGiboon finished in 13th in the CAC Championship meet to earn a spot on the All-CAC second team for the second time in his running career thus far at York. Sophomores Benjamin Linne, Matthew Zubrycki, Brandon Tocket, and senior Christopher Sander will be runners to watch in the upcoming season for the Spartans.
2016 CAC Men's Cross Country Preseason Poll
|1. Christopher Newport (9 first-place votes)||81 points|
|2. York (1 first-place vote)||70 points|
|3. Salisbury||68 points|
|4. Mary Washington||57 points|
|5. St. Mary's||45 points|
|6. Marymount||43 points|
|7. Frostburg State||32 points|
|8. Wesley||24 points|
|9. Southern Virginia||17 points|
|10. Penn State Harrisburg||13 points|