By Miguel Gonzalez
After appearing in the 2016 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships, the Lions aim for the podium. The men’s cross country team will strive to claim their 24th consecutive New Jersey Athletic Conference title and to finish first at the Atlantic Regional Championships. Senior Dale Johnson commands an experienced squad featuring juniors Quinn Wasko, Matt Saponara and Brian Mitchell.
Last year, the Lions qualified for nationals, though an at-large bid. Johnson looks to crack the top 15 at the 8000-meter course in regionals. Meanwhile, Wasko will attempt to improve from his 43rd place finish along with Saponaro.
Junior Natalie Cooper will lead the Lady Lions this season. Following an impressive season, Cooper looks to defend her NJAC Individual title and higher at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships.
Cooper previously finished 47th at the 6000-meter course at the 2016 NCAA Division III Women’s Cross Country Championship.
“After an outstanding season, Cooper is going to focus on staying healthy,” Coach Justin Lindsey said. “We want her to peak at nationals and go beyond her goals.”
The Lady Lions strive to place first at the NJAC Championships, after finishing second last season. Juniors Emma Bean, Madeleine Tattory, Abigail Faith and Erin Holzbaur will focus on finishing higher in regionals in order for the team to reach to nationals. Last season, Tattory claimed the second highest position for the Lions, finishing in 52nd place at the 6000-meter race.
“Last year we finished behind Stockton University at NJACs,” Lindsey said. “Our goal this year is for the women’s team to place first at NJACs and have a team qualify for nationals.”
The Lions will first compete in the Houghton Short Course Twilight Invitational on Friday, Sept. 1. The team will then race in the Blue/Gold Invitational at Rosedale Park, Pennington, New Jersey, on Saturday, Sept. 2.