Friday afternoon at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Southeast Region Championships, both William and Mary men’s and women’s teams improved upon pre-meet rankings to place 12th in the region and conclude the 2019 season. It was a perfect day to run, as the men took on 10 kilometers and the women ran six.
Coming off its most successful season in years which included an unprecedented 20th consecutive conference title, the men hoped to make a big splash at this meet. While the team has been strong, the individual performances of redshirt junior JP Trojan throughout the season have been the headline for this year’s squad. Trojan won the Panorama Farms Invitational, the Penn State National and was this year’s runner-up at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships Nov. 2. He came into the meet as the College’s athlete with the best chance to qualify individually for the NCAA Championships next weekend in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The women’s team struggled in this race last year, finishing 19th, and hoped to improve upon that finish on Friday. The College has been building for this race all year long and been consistent in races thus far. All season, Emma Rogers has been the talk of the town. The freshman from Roanoke, Virginia placed seventh overall two weeks ago at the CAA Championships. Another key factor was junior Liv Paxton, who has led the way most races this season. Senior Charlotte Kowalk looked to make an impact as well by building on her 10th-place finish at the conference meet.
In the men’s competition, Trojan finished as the Tribe’s lead runner once again, finishing the year with a 52nd-place finish in 31 minutes and 15 seconds. Despite Trojan’s strong race, he missed the NCAA Championships cutoff. Once again, right behind him was junior Spencer Tsai, who has been the second finisher all year long. Sophomore Patrick Lynch moved up four spots in the second half of the race to place 61st overall in 31:31. Senior Cooper Leslie closed out his cross country career with a 98th place finish in 32:10. The Tribe was ranked 15th in the region entering the race. The College was sitting in 9th overall at the four-kilometer mark, but ultimately faded over the final six kilometers. Overall, the College improved upon last year’s finish as well, in which it finished 14th as a team.
On the women’s side, new and experienced runners joined forces to lead the Tribe in the race, as Kowalk and Rogers led the way in 51st and 52nd place, respectively. Rogers passed 29 runners in the final three kilometers of the race to snag 52nd. Behind those two was junior Lauren Finikiotis in 86th place with a time of 22:01. Senior Rachel Snyder was a mere six spots behind Finikiotis to finish in 22:06. Paxton ran a tough, consistent race to finish in the top 100 with a time of 22:13. The Tribe finished with a total of 363 points just six points behind 11th-place High Point.
Friday afternoon capped off another successful season for the William and Mary cross country teams, with the men winning their 20th consecutive CAA title. All season, the Tribe dominated CAA opponents and kept pace with the NCAA contenders at larger meets.
The Tribe will look to continue its winning ways throughout the track season as well. While the cross-country season is over, most of the runners will look ahead to the start of the indoor track season in January and the outdoor track season in March.