YORK, Pa. - - Three-time defending champion Christopher Newport was once again selected as the preseason favorite to win the conference this fall, as the Captains totaled eight first-place votes and 80 points to lead the way in a vote of the CAC women's cross country coaches.
York finished second in the preseason poll with two first-place votes and 72 points, followed by Mary Washington (64 points), Salisbury (58 points), and Marymount (48 points) in the top five.
Southern Virginia tallied 35 points to claim sixth place, with Wesley (31 points) and St. Mary's (30 points) close behind in seventh and eighth, respectively. Rounding out the poll were Frostburg State (22 points) and Penn State Harrisburg (11 points).
A formidable group of runners return throughout the conference this year, as 10 of the 16 All-CAC performers at last season's championship are back for another run at conference glory.
Christopher Newport ran away with the 2015 title, placing five runners in the top-eight to secure its third straight crown. York junior Alicia Dillmanraced to the individual crown, besting the second-place runner by over 20 seconds. CNU's Lydia Cromwell was the lone NCAA Championship participant from the CAC last season, taking 213th place.
Penn State Harrisburg will serve as the host of the CAC Championships for the first time this fall. The championship meet is slated for Saturday, Oct. 29.
Here's a brief preview of each team heading into the 2016 season, which begins for several teams today.
CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT captured its third straight CAC championship last fall. Entering 2016, head coach Matthew Barreau's squad welcomes back four All-Conference performers from last season's title team. Logan Harrington and Abigail May are back after notching All-Region honors, while Emmie Schmitt and Briana Stewart were also celebrated by the CAC for their efforts in 2015.
FROSTBURG STATE boasts two returning runners from last year's squad, but will welcome a pair of track & field athletes and five newcomers to this year's roster. Junior Faith Thackston returns after finishing as the Bobcats' No. 2 runner in seven meets last fall. She earned sixth place at the Frostburg Invitational. Jayla Jones enters her sophomore season as a much improved runner and captured a season-best eighth-place showing at Westmoreland. Joining the cross country teams after participating in track & field are freshman Laurie Gotte and Samantha Gittere. Gotte should emerge as one of the leaders on the team, while Gittere ran cross country in high school and her experience should add depth to the roster.
MARY WASHINGTON will bring a youthful talented group for 2016, with an eye on the top spot in the conference. Sophomores Emily Knerr and Jillian Weisbeck and junior Marin Bader lead a young squad that features just one senior in Molly Garthwaite.
Under new leadership of head coach Brian Cunningham, MARYMOUNT gears up for another competitive campaign in a tough field of conference teams. Coming off the program's best season in 2015, the Saints return several experienced runners including First-Team All-CAC honoree Gina Reyes. Finishing sixth in the conference championship, Reyes is joined by five others from last year's success while being joined by a handful of newcomers.
PENN STATE HARRISBURG's first three years in the CAC were a tough adjustment but head coach Danielle Lynch will look to returning athletes Logan Akers and Kaitlin Gould. The Lion's will have several new athletes who hope to make an impact right off the bat. Veronica Repetz, Addison Lauver, andCatherine Kaiser will be key newcomers for Harrisburg. Penn State Harrisburg will serve as the host site for the 2016 CAC Cross Country Championships.
With numbers on its side this season, ST. MARY'S is looking to make a push at this year's CAC championships and break into the top four for the first time since 2012. Leading the charge will be senior team captains Grace Humphries and Alex Schoen.
One of the youngest teams in program history will toe the line for SALISBURY this season, with two juniors marking the only upperclassman on the roster. Junior Jessica Lane was one of Salisbury's top runners throughout the 2015 season and will team with classmate Alison Schwartz to lead the Sea Gulls into 2016. A strong sophomore class, led by returners Jamie Farley, who placed 15th at the CAC Championship last year for all-conference honors,Jill Ciritella, Carly Sniffen, and Fiona Halloran will balance out the Sea Gull squad as they battle for the ninth CAC title in program history.of the CAC Championship in 2016 for the first time.
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 women's team will look different with the loss of Leah Huber as well as Rylee McKeon and Sam Geddes. Returning for the Knights are Kaylee Upham and Kaitlyn Garcia.
WESLEY returns its top four runners from last season with Dieunise Desir, Danae Carter, Quadira Minus, and Diandra Rhoden each back for the 2016 campaign. Desir will look to cap a decorated cross country career with another season as the Navy and White's top runner while Carter, Minus, and Rhoden will lead the rest of the pack into competition this year.
YORK enters its 2016 season with a talented group of upperclassmen leading the way. Head coach Stephen LoBianco returns all but one of his top seven runners from last year's squad that finished second at the CAC championships. Senior Alicia Dillman is returning for her final season for the Spartans coming off winning the individual CAC Championship as a junior. Dillman also received the All-Region honors last season with a 27th-place finish at the regional meet. Sophomore Jessica Delviscio was named Rookie of the Year last season by the CAC, becoming the third runner in program history to receive the honor. Delvisico was also received first team All-CAC honors as she finished fourth at the CAC Championship meet with a time of 23:22:5. Senior Kathleen Cannon earned a spot on the All-CAC second team as she placed ninth at championships. It's her second time earning the all-conference accolades.
2016 CAC Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll
|1. Christopher Newport (8 first-place votes)||80 points|
|2. York (2 first-place votes)||72 points|
|3. Mary Washington||64 points|
|4. Salisbury||58 points|
|5. Marymount||48 points|
|6. Southern Virginia||35 points|
|7. Wesley||31 points|
|8. St. Mary's||30 points|
|9. Frostburg State||22 points|
|10. Penn State Harrisburg||10 points|