Oakdale, N.Y. – The men's and women's cross country
teams opened up the season in fashion this morning at the Oakdale campus
of St. John's as they each placed first at the St. John's/Hofstra Fall
Cross Country Festival. In addition to the team titles, the Panther's
very own Elizabeth Eickelberg and Nick Filippazzo took home the individual crowns in their respective races.
The women's team took to the grass course first for their 4k race. With teams ranging from Division I to Division III, Eickelberg and junior Larissa Melendez were the early race leaders. At the conclusion of two loops, Eickelberg bested the field and kicked off the season with a first place overall finish in 15 flat with Melendez a few strides behind in third (15:09).
Freshman Nicole Elarde was the Panther's third runner, crossing the tape in 16:20 to earn a 19th place finish while Cecelia Capozzoli checked in at 33rd in 16:49. Newcomer Taylor Velez's 17:26 was good enough for a 50th overall finish while Sara Kulins was just two spots and four seconds behind. Lindsey McLaughlin rounded out the contingent with a 78th place finish in 18:18.
The Panthers totaled 50 points in the team scoring as LIU-Post edged DeSales for second, 67 to 68.
Shortly after the women took home top honors, the men accomplished the same feat. Filippazzo set the pace from the gun, established himself as the early leader, and went on to lead from wire to wire as he was the first harrier to cross the 5k finish line. His time of 15:24 was better than second place by 11 seconds.
Connor Dolan and William Marois finished in in 10th and 11th overall with Dolan crossing the line in 15:25; two seconds faster than his teammate. Ryan Healy, Matthew Moody and Gregory Bader capped the top-five as they all finished within 12 seconds of each other between 16:02 and 16:14. Chris Reilly and Daniel Morley finished in 16:33 to round out the top-seven with Reilly being credited with a 31st place overall finish; just .4 seconds ahead of Morley.
In the Division II scoring, the Panthers put seven runners in the top-15 and five runners in the top-nine to post an impressive 26 points. LIU-Post and Molloy finished in second and third with points of 47 and 87 respectively.
"Today was a great way to open the season," stated Head Coach Katie Rees. "The race conditions could not have been more perfect, everyone ran exceptionally well, and it was really a solid start to the year. We have a lot of work to do, but the outlook on this year is looking great!"
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