WINTHROP, Mass. – The Emmanuel College women and Norwich University men have been pegged the favorites for the upcoming Great Northeast Athletic Conference(GNAC) Cross Country Championships, which will take place on Saturday afternoon at Boston's Franklin Park, New England's premier running course.
The women's race will get underway at 1:00 PM; followed by the men's race at 2:00 PM. Emmanuel, Lasell College and Simmons College will be sharing host responsibilities during the meet.
Emmanuel, the defending GNAC women's champs and winners of two of the last three events, garnered 108 points and five first-place votes to lead the way in this year's coaches' poll. Norwich and Simmons finished in a tie for second place with a matching 103 points and three first-place votes apiece. Johnson & Wales University and Saint Joseph's College of Maine rounded out the top-five, finishing with 89 and 75 points, respectively.
In the men's pre-championship poll, defending GNAC champ Norwich finished with eight of a possible nine first-place votes and 80 points to take the top spot. JWU was entrenched in the second position with 73 points and one first-place tally, followed by Emmanuel in third with 58 points. Lasell was fourth with 53 points, narrowly ahead of fifth-place Saint Joseph's of Maine's 48 points.
For the complete poll results, please see below.
The Norwich men will be seeking their ninth-ever GNAC title, while the Emmanuel women are seeking their third conference banner in program history.
In the women's race, University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) senior Kaneen Gomez-Hixson will look to repeat as the individual champion after running a 19:59 5K at Saint Joseph's of Maine last fall.
On the men's side, JWU senior Adam Sachs and Norwich freshman Adam Saucier figure to be in the mix at the front of the pack. Sachs finished second at last year's GNAC Championship in Standish, while Saucier is a five-time GNAC Men's Rookie of the Week and two-time Men's Runner of the Week this fall.
For the Monks, expect senior Nick Shuckrow (Winslow, Maine) and junior Lucas Fisher (Strafford, N.H.) to lead the men's team and sophomores Sarah Curtin (Strafford, N.H.) and Lauren Lecompte (Lewiston, Maine) to pace the women's program.
Shuckrow, a 2014 All-Conference honoree, looks to cap his senior season with another top-10 finish in the conference championship while Fisher, a two-time All-Conference recipient and 2014 GNAC Rookie of the Year winner, looks poised to finish at or near the top in the men's 8K.
Curtin finished 13th in the GNAC Championship as a freshman and has been the Monks' top runner all fall while Lecompte has consistently run in the low 21's all season and figures to compete for an All-Conference spot as a top-10 finisher.
Founded in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 12 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Each year, the GNAC sponsors and administers 17 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunities and community involvement.
2016 Women's Cross Country Coaches' Poll
1. Emmanuel (5) - 108
T2. Norwich (3) - 103
T2. Simmons (3) - 103
4. Johnson & Wales - 89
5. Saint Joseph's Maine - 75
6. Saint Joseph (Conn.) - 66
7. Suffolk - 63
8. Lasell - 47
9. Mount Ida - 30
10. Anna Maria - 29
11. Rivier – 13
2016 Men's Cross Country Coaches' Poll
1. Norwich (8) - 80
2. Johnson & Wales (1) - 73
3. Emmanuel - 58
4. Lasell - 53
5. Saint Joseph's Maine - 48
6. Suffolk - 33
7. Mount Ida - 25
8. Rivier - 22
9. Anna Maria - 13
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.