CASTLETON, Vt. - Castleton will be the host of the 2014 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Men's Cross Country Championship on Sunday, Nov. 2. The championship meet will take place on the Castleton campus with the men's race (8 kilometers) commencing at 12 p.m.
The Lyndon men cruised to a first place finish scoring 27 points with three runners in the top five a season ago. Colby-Sawyer was the runner-up with 80 points, while Castleton tallied 84 points to come in third, and Maine Maritime was a close fourth with 90.
In the 2014 NAC preseason coaches' poll, the Hornets were selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2014 title. Lyndon has been led by seniors Tyler Scheibenpflug and Kenedi Hall. Both runners have earned NAC Runner of the Week honors twice this season. The team has seen consistent finishes from juniors Joshua Hopmans and Tim LaRoche and sophomore Devin Low to round out the team's top five.
The Hornets placed second at the Vermont State Championships and third at the Bowdoin Invitational this season.
The Colby-Sawyer Chargers were selected No. 2 in the preseason poll and have been led all season by the Bunnell brothers, Hayden a senior and Ben a junior. Hayden was tabbed NAC Runner of the Week three times this season and finished third at the 2013 NAC Championship.
The team has also seen steady performances from sophomores Brandon Legendre and Travis Yandow and freshman Kody Frye. The Chargers finished in the top two as a team in three meets including a first-place finish at the Castleton Invitational, a second-place finish at the New England College Invitational, and the team tied for second at the Western New England Invitational.
New England College, tabbed third in the poll, will look to sophomore Scott Shaw to lead the way this weekend at the NAC Championship. Shaw has been the top Pilgrim finisher for NEC at all meets this season. In addition to Shaw, the Pilgrims have seen reliable performances from senior James Wayne, sophomore Nate Stover, and newcomers Sam Fisher, Korey Hunt, and Colin Nelson-Peck. Nelson-Peck earned an NAC Rookie of the Week honor this season.
Maine Maritime, selected No. 4, will look to freshman Zackary Kinsman to lead the charge.
Kinsman has finished as the top Mariner in every race this season. The newcomer has also been honored as the NAC Rookie of the Week twice. The squad has seen great contributions from senior Wyatt Lapage and sophomores Spencer Boonstra, Chase Hughes, and Victor Skorapa.
Castleton, picked fifth in the preseason, has been led by junior Ben Girard, who has been the Spartans top runner several times this year. Freshman Grandon Smith has made an immediate impact during his first season of collegiate running, as he has been a top finisher on the team and earned five NAC Rookie of the Week honors. The Spartans have also seen consistent finishes from senior Matt Woodward, sophomores Jonah Lavigne and Pat Gilligan, and freshman Jake Beaulieu.
The University of Maine at Farmington, Green Mountain, Husson, Johnson State, and Thomas round out the championship field.
Castleton will also host of the 2014 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Women's Cross Country Championships Sunday. The women's race (5 kilometers) will begin at 11 a.m.
The New England College women took top honors in 2013, as the Pilgrims earned their first NAC title in program history after recording 50 points. NEC edged out two-time defending champion Husson by three points last season, while Colby-Sawyer claimed third after scoring 67 points.
The Chargers were selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2014 title in a poll of the league's coaches. Colby-Sawyer has been led by senior Caila Walker, sophomores Kylee Parker and Emily Lopez, and freshman Lauren Oligny.
Oligny earned two NAC Rookie of the Week honors this season. The Chargers placed in the top three in three of their meets this season including a first-place finish at the Castleton Invitational, a second-place finish at the NEC Invitational, and a third-place finish at the Western New England Invitational.
The Husson Eagles were selected as No. 2 in the preseason poll and have been led all season by sophomore Chrissy Larrabee, who claimed three NAC Runner of the Week honors.
Senior Alecia Palmer, junior Kateri Jeffery, and the trio of newcomers Morgan Clifford, Chimene Goewey, and Amy Hilton have been consistent this season for the Eagles. Husson finished in the top three as a team in three meets including a first-place finish at the Husson Invitational and third place finishes at the Bowdoin Invitational and the Colby Invitational.
New England College, tabbed third, will look to sophomore Abby Shafer, the 2013 NAC Runner and Rookie of the Year, to lead the way this weekend at the NAC Championship. Shafer has been the top Pilgrim finisher for NEC at all meets this season and has taken home NAC Runner of the Week honors four times. In addition to Shafer, the Pilgrims have seen quality performances from sophomores Erica Notini and Allison Granata.
Castleton, selected No. 4 in the preseason, will look to freshman Elizabeth Bassette to lead the charge. Bassette has finished as the top Spartan in nearly every race this season. The newcomer has also been honored as the NAC Rookie of the Week four times this season. The squad has seen great contributions from senior Shelly Audette, junior Caitlin Ryan, and sophomores Margie Kuchinski and Kelsey Thompson.
The University of Maine at Farmington, picked fifth in the poll, has been led by sophomore Kaitlin Flanders, who has been the Beavers No. 1 runner. Flanders earned an NAC Runner of the Week honor this season. UMF has also seen consistent finishes from sophomores Emily Franklin and Emma Pidden and freshman Alisha Labbe.
Green Mountain, Johnson State, Lyndon, Maine Maritime, and Thomas round out the championship field.
Sunday's races will serve as a final tune up before the ECAC Championships, which will be hosted by Westfield State on Saturday, Nov. 8, and the NCAA Division III New England Regional Championships. The regional will be hosted by Williams College on Saturday, Nov. 15.
Teams and runners are ultimately hoping to qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 22, in Mason, Ohio.