Men's Cross Country Captures ACC Championship
CARY, N.C. - With six of the top 23 runners in the field, NC State won the Atlantic Coast Conference cross country championship Saturday, edging two-time defending champion Virginia for the men’s title.
In the women's championship race, Florida State placed seven runners in the top 20 and rolled past runner-up Duke.
Virginia’s Emil Heineking won the individual championship in the men’s race, running the 8K course at the Wake Med Soccer and Cross Country Complex in a time of 23:15.49. Cavalier teammate Ryan Collins was second at 23:17.74. Two-time defending women’s champion Susan Kuijken was an easy repeat winner, running the 6K course in a time of 19:39.3.
NC State, which won its 14th men’s championship and its 11th in the last 15 years, was paced by senior John Martinez and sophomore Ryan Hill, who ran third and fourth, respectively. Redshirt-freshman Patrick Campbell placed eighth for the Wolfpack, which won the championship with a team score of 56 points. Martinez, Hill and Campbell earned All-ACC honors for finishing in the top 14 in the individual standings.
"I'm really proud of these young men, very happy for them," Wolfpack men's coach Rollie Geiger said. "It's a great group to work with. This is one of our goals every year and it's been a couple of years since we've won it. They really wanted it and they gave that little extra it takes to win it."
The men’s race was one of the closest in the history of the event. Heineking and Collins were well-ahead of the Wolfpack’s Martinez and Hill, but the field was tightly bunched after that. NC State won thanks in large part to its fourth, fifth and sixth runners finishing ahead of Virginia’s fourth-place finisher. Florida State’s Matt Leeder finished fifth at 23:33.66. Duke’s Bo Waggoner was sixth (23:34.04), Virginia Tech’s Will Mulherin seventh (23:34.36), NC State’s Patrick Campbell eighth (23:35.03), FSU’s Daniel Roberts (23:36.37) and Ciaran Olionaird (23:38.80) ninth and 10th, respectively.
The key to NC State's victory was strong finishes from its second tier of runners, who closed the gap between the front and the back of the race for the Wolfpack. Sophomore Greg Dame took 19th place in a time of 24:14.37, and fellow sophs Bobby Moldovan and Andrew North were not far behind, finishing 22nd and 23rd, respectively. Moldovan finished at 24:16.78 and North at 24:18.68.
"As the race unfolded, I saw that we were grouping very well and were running closer to the front of the pack," Geiger said. "That's what we've been striving for, and when I saw that, it told me that we had a chance to win."
Virginia won a three-way battle for second place with 71 points, thanks in large part to the 1-2 finish of Heineking and Collins. Florida State was third, one point behind the Cavaliers with 72 points, and Duke was fourth with 74. Virginia Tech finished fifth with 122 points, followed by North Carolina (6th, 138), Maryland (7th, 219), Georgia Tech (8th, 239), Wake Forest (9th, 281), Boston College (10th, 287), Clemson (11th, 293) and Miami (12th, 395).
In winning its third straight ACC championship, Florida State thoroughly dominated the women’s race. In addition to Kuijken, junior Pilar McShine was third (20:06.4), junior Pasca Cheruiyot was sixth (20:16.6), sophomore Jennifer Dunn was 13th (20:37.8) and freshman Jessica Perry was 14th (20:40.7), giving the Seminoles five runners on the all-conference team. FSU won with a team score of 37 points, easily outdistancing runner-up Duke (71 points) and third-place Virginia (84).
NC State finished fourth in the women’s race with 109 points, followed by North Carolina (5th, 137 points), Boston College (6th, 144), Maryland (7th, 192), Wake Forest (8th, 204), Clemson (9th, 221), Virginia Tech (10th, 284), Georgia Tech (11th, 312) and Miami (12th, 380).
The Pack's Emily Pritt earned all-conference honors with a seventh-place finish, running the course in a time of 20:22.9. Senior Brittany Tinsley was 15th at 20:45.0, with freshman Jordan Jenkins 19th at 21:00.7. Sophomore Andie Cozzarelli was 33rd at 21:35.5, with freshman Erin Mercer (40th, 21:47.1) rounding out the scoring for the Pack.
Morgane Gay of Virginia took fourth at 20:06.6, with Duke’s Carly Seymour (20:14.8), Florida State’s Pasca Cheruiyot (20:18.6), Pritt (20:22.9), North Carolina’s Ashley Verplank (20:23.4), Clemson’s Kim Ruck (20:26.1) and Duke’s Juliet Bottorff (20:34.6) rounding out the top 10.
Florida State’s Wes Rickman was men’s ACC Rookie of the Year after running the men’s race in a time of 24:16.16. He was the top true freshman in the race, finishing 24th. In the women’s race, Duke’s Bottorff was women’s ACC Rookie of the Year.