WINTHROP, Mass. – The Simmons College women and Norwich University men have been selected as the favorites for this weekend's 2017 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Cross Country Championships, which will be hosted by the Johnson & Wales University staff at Colt State Park in Bristol, R.I. this Saturday, October 28.
Simmons received eight of a possible 12 first-place votes and 137 points in the pre-championship poll, as voted upon by the league's head coaches, while the Norwich men received nine of 10 first-place nods and 99 points.
The women's 5K race will sound the gun at 1:00 PM on Saturday, followed by the men's 8K event at 2:00 PM. For the complete poll results, please see below.
Simmons finished in a first-place tie with Norwich during last year's GNAC Women's Cross Country Championship at Franklin Park, but Norwich won the team title via tiebreak. The Sharks will be seeking their first-ever GNAC crown on Saturday, while the Cadets, who finished second in the poll with 126 points and two first-place votes, will seek their third title in a four-year span since 2014.
The Emmanuel College women, which won the 2013 and 2015 GNAC titles, were selected third with 121 points and one first-place tally. Newest GNAC member Regis (Mass.) finished fourth with 99 points, while host JWU rounded out the top-five with 98 points.
On the men's side, Norwich will be running for its third straight GNAC title and fourth in six years dating back to 2012. Emmanuel finished second to the Cadets in the poll with 86 points and one first-place vote, followed by JWU in third, Regis fourth, and Saint Joseph's College of Maine fifth.
The top-seven finishers in both races will automatically receive First Team All-Conference medals, while the 8-14 finishers will be named to the All-GNAC Second Team.
The 2017 event will guarantee new individual race winners, as last year's men's (JWU's Adam Sachs) and women's (USJ's Kaneen Gomez-Hixson) top finishers were both seniors.
Fans and spectators at Colt State Park are encouraged to attend a brief awards ceremony on Saturday afternoon following the conclusion of both championship races.
2017 GNAC Women's Cross Country Pre-Championship Poll
1. Simmons (8) – 137
2. Norwich (2) – 126
3. Emmanuel (1) – 121
4. Regis (Mass.) – 99
5. Johnson & Wales (1) – 98
6. Suffolk – 83
7. Saint Joseph's Maine – 74
8. Saint Joseph (Conn.) – 64
9. Lasell – 48
10. Rivier – 42
11. Mount Ida – 23
12. Anna Maria - 21
2017 GNAC Men's Cross Country Pre-Championship Poll
1. Norwich (9) – 99
2. Emmanuel (1) – 86
3. Johnson & Wales – 76
4. Regis (Mass.) – 67
5. Saint Joseph's Maine – 59
6. Lasell – 54
7. Suffolk – 37
8. Mount Ida – 34
9. Rivier – 23
10. Anna Maria - 15
Founded in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Each year, the GNAC sponsors and administers 20 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunities and community involvement.
COURTESY OF GNAC SPORTS INFORMATION OFFICE
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.