Oct. 27, 2011

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The Atlantic 10 Conference will hold its first two championships of the season this weekend with the running of the Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships at Frank Liske Park in Concord, N.C., on Saturday, October 29.

The 34th Annual Men's Cross Country Championship 8K will begin at 10:00 a.m. as Richmond looks to defend its 2010 championship. The Spiders, who outpaced runner-up Duquesne, 51-64, last year, will be led by juniors Jason Skipper and Chris York, who finished 38th and 40th, respectively, at the 2010 Men's Cross Country Championship.

Also vying for this year's crown is preseason favorite La Salle. The Explorers, who are competing in their first Conference Championship meet since the tragic death of longtime coach Charles Torpey, will be seeking their first conference title since 2007. Torpey, who passed away this past July of a heart attack, will be honored with a moment of silence before the championships.

Junior Greg Roeth, the top returning finisher from last year's championship, will look to lead Dayton to its first Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championship in school history.

Joining Dayton, La Salle and Richmond in pursuit of the 2011 Conference Championship are Charlotte, Duquesne, Fordham, George Washington, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph's, Saint Louis, Temple and Xavier.

Charlotte has been led this season by junior Daweet Dagnachew. Dagnachew has been the top runner for the 49ers in each of the three races he has run this year. Dagnachew raced to a 32nd place overall finish at the 2010 Cross Country Championship. Charlotte, this year's championship host, is searching for its first A-10 Cross Country Championship.

Last year's runner-up, Duquesne, will look to challenge for the league title on the heels of junior Jim Spisak. Spisak has recorded two individual victories for the Dukes this season and finished in 10th place last year at the Conference Championship.

Fordham's Julian Saad has led the way for the Rams this season as he as posted individual victories at the Purple Valley Classic and at the Metropolitan Championship. This year's Fordham squad has posted a top five team finish in every race.

After last season's 11th place team finish at the A-10 Cross Country Championship, George Washington will look to reverse its fortunes heading into this year's event. The Colonials are seeking their first league title.

Graduate student Sean Duncan has been the leader for Massachusetts this season. Duncan, who has twice been named A-10 Performer of the Week, has recorded the best overall time for the Minutemen three consecutive races. Massachusetts is in search of its first league title since 2008, and its third overall.

Rhode Island will look to seniors Nathan Wigton and Michael Pezzulloto as they endeavor to lead the Rams to their first ever Cross Country Championship. Joining the seniors Wigton and Pezzullo will be freshman Zachary Seites-Rundlett, who was named the A-10 Rookie of the Week earlier this year after his 22nd place overall finish at the Ted Owens CCSU Invitational.

Freshman Nick Masiello, the top runner for St. Bonaventure this season, will try to lead this young team that includes seven freshmen, as the Bonnies attempt to escape the bottom of the leaderboard at this year's championship.

Saint Joseph's, the 2009 Atlantic 10 Champion, has been led by two-time Performer of the Week Kevin McDonnell en route to its four top five finishes this season. McDonnell posted a 14th place overall finish at the 2010 Championship and hopes to translate that success as he attempts to lead the Hawks to another title.

Saint Louis' freshmen Michael Scolarici and Tim Zellmer have both made an immediate impact this season for the Billikens, as both were named Rookie of the Week earlier in the season and have contributed to the team's overall success. Earlier in the year at the NIU Open, Scolarici became the first Billiken to win an individual title since the Cross Country program was re-established in 1992. It was also the first time Saint Louis had recorded an overall team title since 2005.

Temple will be highlighted by freshman Matthew Kacyon. Kacyon was the top performer for Temple at two of its three meets this season including at the Paul Short Invitational in which he ran a time of 26:35.

Xavier sophomore Tom Ohlman has been the Musketeers top performer on three occassions this season. At the Queen City Invitational Ohlman posted a third-place overall finish and a time of 15:24.85 to lead Xavier. Xavier is still searching for its first Cross Country title after joining the league in 1995.

The 23rd Annual Women's Cross Country Championship will begin at 10:45 a.m on the 5,000 meter course. Richmond will attempt to defend its 2010 crown, in which it defeated La Salle 43-68, and seek its third title in the last four years. The Spiders are led by sophomore Jill Prentice, who recorded a 12th place finish at the 2010 Championship.

La Salle's Stephanie Bearish and Saint Louis' Hilary Orf, the top returning performers from last year's championship, will also look to lead their respective teams to victory.

Joining La Salle, Saint Louis and Richmond in the hunt for the 2011 title are Charlotte, Duquesne, Dayton, Fordham, George Washington, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph's, Temple and Xavier.

Leading the way for Charlotte is 2009 Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championship runner-up Amanda Goetschius. Goetschius' senior season has included a third-place overall finish at the Charlotte Invitational and a 39th overall finish two weekends ago at the NCAA Pre-Nationals.

Dayton, who last won the Women's Cross Country Championship in 2009, has been led by the strong performances of senior Elissa Mason so far this season. Mason began her senior season with three consecutive top 10 finishes before posting a 41st overall finish at the NCAA Pre-Nationals.

Pacing the Dukes' attack this season has been senior Meg Ecker. Ecker, the Lancaster, Pa. native, has consistently been the top performer for Duquesne, and recorded a victory earlier this year in a meet against Bucknell and Pittsburgh.

Standing out so far this season for Fordham has been freshman Sarah Glockenmeier. Glockenmeier, who has twice been named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week, has seen her times consistently improve throughout the season and thus culminating in a fourth-place overall finish at the St. John's Fall Festival.

George Washington has been led this season by junior Julia Weir. Weir enters the 2011 Cross Country Championship coming off consecutive top ten finishes at the George Mason Invitational and the Leopard Invitational. The Colonials will be attempting to capture their first league title on Saturday.

Massachusetts, the school with the most all-time Women's A-10 Cross Country Championships (seven), is in pursuit of its eighth conference title and first since 1999. This year's squad is once again is led by Coach Julie LaFreniere, and returns senior Karen Roa and junior Courtney Baldwin from last year's squad. Roa was named the Women's Performer of the Week earlier this season after her strong performance at the New England Championships in which she recorded a tenth-place overall finish.

Junior Niamh Ryan has been top finisher three times season for Rhode Island, including picking up her first career meet win at the Brown-Rothenberg Invitational back on October 14th. The Rams will be searching for their first A-10 title this weekend.

Leading St. Bonaventure this season has been freshman Hannah Robinson. Robinson's top finish this season was at the Big 3 Invitational in which Robinson posted a time of 19:31 in the 5K.

Saint Joseph's, which has been ranked in the USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Region Poll all season, has posted four top five team finishes this season including wins at the Blue/Gold Classic and at the Charlotte Duals Invitational.

Freshman Jenna Dubrow led Temple to its highest ever finish at the Paul Short Invitational earlier this season as the Owls finished 32nd in Women's Brown 6K. Dubrow also set a personal record that day as her 38th place overall finish was an individual best for any Temple runner ever at the event.

Xavier has posted four consecutive top five finishes heading into the conference championship. The Musketeers have been led by senior Caylin Howell who recorded a sixth place overall finish earlier this season at the Queen City Invitational along with recording a time of 22:29 at the NCAA Pre-Nationals.

Admission to the Cross Country Championships is free.