The Canisius College men's and women's cross country teams competed at the 2012 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando on Saturday morning. A total of 16 runners set personal bests, as the Golden Griffin men finished fourth overall, while the women placed sixth.
Finishing fourth overall, the Golden Griffin men recorded their best team-performance at the conference championships since 2002. In addition, it was their best showing at the MAAC Championships in the Sunshine State since placing fifth in 2000.
"Our men took a large step forward as a program today, we closed the gap between us and the top teams in the MAAC," said head coach Nate Huckle. "I'm proud of both teams and our program overall. We approached this race with confidence and determination, and they represented Canisius well."
In the men's race, fourth nationally-ranked Iona captured their 22nd consecutive conference title, as they secured seven of the top-eight places for 16 points. Marist finished second (80) for the eighth straight race followed by Rider in third (83). The men's individual champion was Mitch Goose of Iona, who recorded the top time at the course since 2000, the fifth fastest time in MAAC history at Disney.
On the women's side, Iona won their eighth consecutive team title with 26 points followed by Marist (65) for the second straight year and Rider (83). Iona's Marion Joly-Testault won the women's race in a time of 21:07 for the second fastest time in MAAC history at the course.
Sophomore Chad Maloy continued his strong season at the conference championship, placing ninth overall with a time of 24:53. Maloy's finish was the highest a Griff male has placed at the MAAC Championship since 2000 when Chad Bader placed seventh at the same course.
"Chad really set the tone for how aggressive we were going to race today," said Huckle of Maloy's performance. "He is our first runner in over ten years to crack the top ten in the MAAC Championship, so for him to go after it and mix it up with Iona and the other top runners in the conference gave our men confidence."
Joining Maloy in the top-five Griff finishes were freshman Michael Anvelt in 19th (25:34), senior Alex Simon in 25th (25:47), freshman Cooper Roach in 28th (25:53), and junior Nate McCabe in 33rd (26:03). Among the Griffs' top-finishers, Maloy, Anvelt, and Roach set 8K personal-bests.
"The freshmen came through big again, with Mike having one of the best post-season races of his running career, and Cooper coming through and finishing strong, even though he had a tough race," said Huckle.
Competing in their final conference championship were Simon and Aaron Hoven. Finishing as the Griffs' top-sixth runner, Hoven recorded a time of 26:23, an 8K personal-best, to finish in 39th place.
"Our seniors were the real heroes on the day though. Alex and Aaron kept us together and brought the back of our pack in where we needed it. Overall, it was an outstanding team performance."
For the fifth consecutive race, junior Mikelle Cala led the Golden Griffin women, finishing tenth among 116 runners. Cala's tenth-place finish tied the Griffs' best finish at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex set by Becki Rice in 2000.
Finishing in the Griffs' top-five finishes were junior Jamie Wallace in 29th place (23:12), sophomore Morgan Atkins in 31st (23:18), freshman Mary Kate Chambers in 46th (23:53), and freshman Robin Wagner in 52nd (24:09). Wallace, Atkins, Chambers, and Wagner each recorded 6K personal-bests with Chambers competing in her first collegiate 6K-race.
"For the women, Mikelle had the best race of her career as a Griff. She moved well through the field and had a great kick to finish tenth," said Huckle. "Behind her, Jaime and Morgan really stepped up to keep us in the top six for team scores. Our freshmen are making strides to pull our pack together, we just need time to develop their aerobic strength."
The Blue and Gold will complete the season at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships at Hammonasset State Park at Madison, Conn on Friday, November 9.