Recapping the OCC Cross Country Season

Dylan Antonelli, Staff Writer

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The OCC Cross Country team finished off the season with another impressive race at the 2018 NJCAA Division III Cross Country Championship as the men’s team finished fourth overall.

Leading the charge was freshman Paul Spence who finished 21th overall with a time of 28:45, followed by freshman Kevin Knoetig in 31st place with a time of 29:09. Continuing along with the freshman was Joseph Bombardiere in 44th place with a time of 29:34. The rest of the men placed accordingly:

  1. Thomas Dalessio – 29:40
  2. Grant Tokarski – 30:45
  3. Dylan Antonelli – 46:57

In addition to the men, the woman’s team also finished the season strong, placing 13th overall among all competing women’s team. Leading the team was sophomore Jessica Reis finishing 29th overall with a time of 22:13. Following her was Gabriela Alexander at 103rd place with a time of 27:03, then Maria Rojas at 105th place with a time of 27:15. The rest of the women’s team finished accordingly:

  1. Amy Galasso – 30:42
  2. Kaitlyn Chambers – 32:25

In a poll released before the meet, the Men’s OCC Cross Country team was ranked seventh overall among NJCAA Division III Cross Country teams. Despite the ranking, the team had even higher expectations heading into their last race of the season, expecting to finish among the top five teams at the meet. However, for both the men and the woman it was anything but an easy race, as the pouring rain the night before made the course extremely slippery, and not suitable for running conditions. Despite this the team was determined to finish an impressive season on a high note, and despite the consist rain, the team pushed on, giving it all they had left. This hard work and determination resulted in the men’s fourth overall finish, and the women’s team finishing 13th overall.

With the final race in the books, the Cross Country team concluded an excellent season where week after week they showed other schools they were a real force to be reckoned with. In the first week of action during a 5k run at the Dukes invitational hosted by Cumberland County College, the team finished second overall, (first place among non-Division I schools). They then followed up that strong performance with another impressive race at Roman University’s Bill Fritz Invitational that also featured many Division I schools. They finished third among Division III schools and 16th overall. Finishing their first month of action, they then raced at Stockton University’s Osprey Open where they finished second among Division III schools and eighth overall.

Then the following month, the team’s hard work and training really started to pay off. They started the month off with a trip to Luzerne County Community College and a first place finish. The team then traveled to Jack St. Clair College where they finished seventh out of the 10 teams that competed. Followed by that, the team ran their last 5k of the season, finishing seventh out of the eight teams, but did tie for third place among the Division III teams that raced.

Their best performance of the season came at regionals, where going in, had high hopes that they could win the NJCAA Region XIX Championship. They more than lived up to that expectation. Thanks to a strong performance, the team was able to take home the title, finishing first place against other highly competitive teams. Freshman runners Conrad Spence finished at fourth place, while Kevin Knoetig finished sixth overall in the men’s race, which also led to both runners being named to the NJCAA All-Region XIX Team. Sophomore Jessica Reis finished sixth overall in the women’s race, and was also named to the All-Region team. In addition, Cross Country coach Jen Nelson, who all year has been training everyone to achieve their great potential, was named Region XIX Coach of the Year. Overall it was an outstanding race, one that demonstrated just how much the team had grown from the start of the season.

With that, the team’s strong finish at Nationals capped off a very successful season for the team. Week after week, the team put up strong performances, as they consistently demonstrated that they weren’t to be taken lightly. Yet this season also showed the potential for the future. With many promising freshman on the team, there is definitely a lot of promise for the team in the following seasons.

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Recapping the OCC Cross Country Season