University’s women’s cross country team finished in the top 10 to earn Scranton a second place finish in the Landmark Conference Championships in Washington, D.C., Saturday. Senior Matt DeMaio led the men’s team to a fifth-place finish by finishing 25th out of 77 runners. The next step for both teams is the NCAA Mideast regional competition.
Seniors Cara Notarianni and Mary O’Neill continued their strong campaign for the 2013-2014 season by finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 6000-meter race. Their performances earned them first-team all-conference honors. Sophomore Erika Sarno finished her first conference championship by taking ninth place.
This was the Royals’ second runner-up finish since winning the Landmark Conference Championship in 2009.
O’Neill, who finished with a time of 24:31.00, said she was pleased with her race, but she was most excited about the way the entire team performed.
“This has definitely been a really strong season so far,” O’Neill said. “We will probably have our best place at regionals since we’ve been here.”
Since this is her last season, O’Neill said she was able to find the motivation during the offseason in order to make the season stronger than she has in previous years.
“You have to find the motivation to go out there and get the work done,” O’ Neill said. “This summer I was more motivated than I was in the past and I came back stronger than I have compared to any other season.”
Despite it being a slow course, Notarianni said it played toward the team’s strengths, even though it was their first time running at the United States Soldiers’ & Airmen’s Home in Washington, D.C.
“There was different terrain throughout, so it gave people who are good at hills a chance to show their strength, but it [the course] didn’t overpower it,” Notrianni said.
Lehigh University is the host site for this year’s regional final. O’Neill said the Royal’s have yet to have a normal race when competing at Lehigh.
“Every time we go to Lehigh, it is a crazy experience,” O’Neill said. “We have had snow storms, heat waves, so I guess we will see what is in store.”
Regardless of how well they perform at regionals, O’Neill, who is the only runner graduating this year, said her time with the team has been a major part of her life at The University over the last four years.
“I honestly don’t think I would have loved school as much as I do if I wasn’t part of this team,” O’Neill said. “It keeps me busy and motivated, and I could not imagine what school would be like without it.”
This year’s NCAA regional finals will take place Nov. 16. The top seven runners from both the men’s and women’s team will compete at the nationals.
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