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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Pack running propels Bobcats to equal program-best finish at NCAA Regionals

Peyton McKenzie
Senior Liv DiStefano was Quinnipiac’s highest finisher at the 2023 NCAA Northeast Regionals, placing 36th.

BRONX, N.Y. —  Quinnipiac women’s cross country used superb depth and teamwork to power itself to a program best ninth place finish out of 37 teams at the NCAA Northeast Regionals Friday. 

All five scoring runners finished within 30 places of each other, that is — 36th, 46th, 52nd, 60th and 66th — to match a ninth place performance for the Bobcats at the 2006 meet.

“We had a 27-second spread,” head coach Carolyn Martin said. “You show me any other team that had kind of spread — that’s not happening.”

Senior Liv DiStefano led the way for Quinnipiac, clocking in at 20:42.5 over the 6K course. Senior Alessandra Zaffina followed in 20:51.9. Sophomore Rachel St. Germain, senior Corinne Barney and graduate student Emily Young all crossed the finish line in the next 19 seconds. 

“The bond that we have too, finding each other out there … and pulling each other through the race was what really makes us a strong team,” DiStefano said. “I’m really grateful for these girls.”

“We’re running with our best friends,” Zaffina added.

It was not the perfect day that Martin had envisioned, but her squad battled. Four of the five scorers recorded personal bests on the day against a tough regional field. 

“I would have loved to have been a top-eight team and that’s what we kind of set a goal of,” Martin said. “We actually ran the fastest that we’ve run (this season). They ran their hearts out and we had a couple of sicknesses, so you can’t expect anything crazy.”

And compared to that 2006 performance, the 2023 Bobcats were a step above their predecessors. They averaged 20:56.2 among their top five in the race, more than two minutes quicker than the 22:59.3 average — on the same course — from 17 years prior. 

Despite the record-setting performance, Quinnipiac still needs to make up ground to qualify for the national championship meet. Each regional awards auto-bids to the top two teams — 18 teams in total — and the NCAA D1 Cross Country Subcommittee selects an additional 13 teams from the rest of the field. 

But the last two seasons show an upward trajectory. The Bobcats have won back-to-back conference championships and each of their last two regional performances sit top three in program history.  

“Once they see, oh, this is how we did last year, now it’s an expectation,” Martin said. “The closer we get with those, the 10 teams are all really good in this region, so now you’re talking about, someone has a great day and now you’re a top five team, and then you’re looking at going to nationals.”

And like everything this team has accomplished, there’s only one way Quinnipiac qualifies for the NCAA Championships: together.  

“We’re a family,” DiStefano said. “There’s no pressure. We don’t ever get negative vibes. It’s just great. These girls — I’m going to miss them next year … But we’re building a legacy, so we’ve just got to keep making history and passing it on.”

Quinnipiac senior Nolan Kus ran a personal best 32.55.9 10K at the NCAA Northeast Regionals in New York Friday. (Peyton McKenzie)

‘It’s a process’

On the men’s side, Quinnipiac only put five of its seven runners to the line in the race, finishing 36th out of 37 teams, just ahead of Fairfield. 

Senior Nolan Kus was the Bobcats’ highest finisher, running 32.55.9 over 10K for 187th place, followed by freshman Michael Strain in 225th, James Kiernan in 237th, Keegan Metcalfe in 246th and Ohm Patel in 251st. 

“The 10K is always a challenge,” head coach David Scrivines said. “Training for the 8K all year and then jumping over to this, and certainly we prioritize MAAC Championships first and this second. But I thought all of our guys ran well today and grinded. Almost all, if not all of our guys ran personal records for the 10K.”

The race got off to a strange start, with runners barely 50 meters out of their boxes before the gun sounded again for a false start — a rare occurrence in the sport. 

“I don’t know what happened there,” Scrivines said. “It’s something I’ve never seen in 26 years of coaching cross country. I talked with a bunch of other coaches who said, ‘we’ve never seen this in cross country.’”

But after that, the race went smoothly.

“This is a tough course, a challenging course,” Scrivines said.  “But I’m really pleased with the consistent effort today and our performances.”

MAAC Champion Iona, who has won the conference for 33 consecutive years, brought home the Northeast Regional title as well, putting five runners in the top 15 to score a meet-low 40 points. 

Quinnipiac is nowhere near the stature of their conference counterpart. But they’re following a roadmap to try to shorten the gap year by year. 

“It’s a process,” Scrivines said. “It’s going to take a little while. But we’re just trying each year to build and keep building and we’ll get there eventually. We’re making improvement. It’s a little bit slower right now, but I think with a couple good recruiting classes that we anticipate in the next couple of years, we’ll keep climbing.”

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About the Contributors
Cameron Levasseur
Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor
Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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