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Cross Country Competes at America East Championships Saturday
BALTIMOREóThe UMBC menís and womenís cross country teams travel to Burlington, Vt. Saturday to compete in the 2009 America East Cross Country Championships. The womenís race begins at 11 a.m., while the menís action starts at noon.
The women come into the race on a high note after receiving their first regional ranking (#15 in the Mid-Atlantic) in eight years. The team is led by senior Suzanne Gabriel (Falls Church, Va./McLean), who won the Princeton Invitational on Oct. 17., and senior Sara Parkinson (Lancashire, England/Loughborough University), who has crossed the line first for the Retrievers in seven out of nine career meets. The men are led by senior Andrew Madison (Edgewater, Md./South River), who has led the Retrievers across the line in all four of his meets this season.
The Stony Brook University women were chosen by the preseason coachesí poll to win their third-straight title while the University of New Hampshire men were predicted to run away with their fourth-consecutive championship.
The Seawolves have maintained a top ranking in the USTFCCCA Northeast regional poll, coming in fourth for four straight weeks. Stony Brook also received one vote for the national poll for the week ending Sunday, October 11. Top runners and Performer of the Week winners, juniors Holly and Lucy van Dalen will be important assets for the Seawolves at the conference meet.
The New Hampshire men have had a strong season, claiming the top finish by an America East squad at the New England Championships. Senior Josh Kearns has been a top runner for the Wildcats, finishing third at the America East Pre-Championship and 11th at the New England Championships. But New Hampshire will have to watch out for Binghamton who overtook them in the regional rankings last week, coming in 10th while the Wildcats fell to 14th.
Both of last yearís individual champions, Boston U.ís graduate student Andrea Walkonen and Stony Brookís junior Tim Hodge will return this year to defend their titles. Two-time 2009 Performer of the Week, Walkonen is looking to claim her third individual championship title at this yearís conference meet.
Walkonen claimed the individual title at the 2009 America East Pre-Championship meet and then went on to capture the individual title at Boston U.ís home invitational. However, Walkonen will have strong competition this year in Maineís sophomore Corey Conner who won the New England Championships this year in 17:36, tying Walkonenís winning time from the 2008 meet.
Defending individual menís champion, Hodge led the Seawolves at the Princeton Invitational, running to a 10th place finish. He also finished 37th at the Iona Meet of Champions, his first race of the 2009 season. But teammate senior Alex Felce, who won the 2007 conference meet and took second at last yearís championship, will be looking to reclaim the title. Felce has had a strong season, placing 15th at the Iona Meet of Champions and 14th at the Princeton Invitational.