Last year’s NEC Cross Country Championships were a success for Quinnipiac University as the men earned a championship banner and the women finished second, missing the title by just two points. This year’s NEC Championships will take place in Loretto, Pa., on Saturday, Nov 5.
Each team hopes to repeat and in the case of the women’s team, perhaps surpass that success. The women’s championship should come down to St. Francis of Penn., Sacred Heart, and Quinnipiac. St. Francis and Quinnipiac are the two front-running teams on men’s side.
“When you have two groups of talented seniors it’s really going to come down to heart,” Quinnipiac track head coach Shawn Green said. “We haven’t seen so far this season the typical heart we expect from a Quinnipiac team, but we are confident we will see that at conference championships and that is going to make the difference”.
Some of Quinnipiac’s key runners are seniors Greg Brink and Jeff Roginielewicz, sophomore Jacon Gurzler, and freshman Matt Warren. Roginielewicz earned NEC All-Conference Honors in 2004 and Warren has twice been named the NEC Rookie of the Week for men’s cross country.
Senior Katie Gwyther will be the key runner for the women’s team. She is undefeated in three races this year, including the New England Championships. Nevertheless, Green is quick to point out that the NEC championship will come down to the women’s cross country team’s other runners.
“We have ten different women who could be in the top five on any given day,” Green said.
Senior Jenna Nechamen and junior Erin O’Connell are two such key runners for the women’s team. O’Connell is a transfer in her first season with Quinnipiac and her efforts could help Quinnipiac improve on last year’s second-place finish. Nechamen was the top finisher for the women’s team in the two races that Gwyther did not participate in this year.
Green emphasizes racing together as a team as a key to success at the upcoming championships. He points out that in cross country teammates endure the same training and that this helps to build significant team chemistry.
Some of the top NEC men’s runners from schools other than Quinnipiac are St. Francis (Penn.) Ryan Sheehan and A.J. Suravicz. St.Francis’ Whitney Schnarr, Sacred Heart’s Kathleen Duffy and Monmouth’s Katina Alexander are a few of the top female NEC runners who will race in championships.
The NEC Championship will not mark the end of Quinnipiac’s cross country season. The men and women will compete in the NCAA Regionals on Nov. 12 in Boston.