Elon Phoenix Cross Country to Compete at CAA Championships

ELON, N.C. – After competing and racing through its regular-season campaign, the Elon University cross country programs begin the championship portion of its 2015 schedule starting with the Colonial Athletic Association Championship meet on Saturday, Oct. 31, hosted by the College of Charleston.

The women’s 6K race begins at 10 a.m. followed by the men’s 8K run at 11 a.m. on the course at Laurel Hill Plantation. An awards ceremony will immediately follow after both races are completed.

Follow the Phoenix
Updates of the meet will be posted on social media through Twitter at @elonphoenix or the program’s handle at @EU_XCTF. The CAA will also provide updates on its Twitter handle at @CAASports. Live results will also be posted on the program’s schedule page at elonphoenix.com.

About the CAA Championships
This is Elon’s second year at the CAA Championship meet. Last season, the Phoenix women finished as the runner-up in its race while on the men’s side, Elon’s Luis Vargas earned the individual title to become the program’s first-ever conference champion at the Division I level. The Phoenix men also earned its highest finish ever at a conference meet at the Division I level with a third-place standing.

William & Mary is the defending champion after sweeping both the male and female races a year ago. On the women’s side, the Tribe is one of two ranked regional teams at the league championships at No. 3 in the Southeast Region. James Madison is No. 10 in the regional standings.

The Tribe male harriers earned its 15th straight CAA title last season and are the favorites to do so again this year. William & Mary sits at No. 13 in the Southeast Regional rankings – the only CAA school to be ranked in the regional poll.

Last Time Out
The Phoenix last competed at Wake Forest Invitational on Friday, Oct. 16, its final regular-season meet. The Phoenix women garnered a fourth-place finish in the 17-team field with 110 points and finished behind Richmond (53), Appalachian State (70) and host Wake Forest (86) in the 6K race. Senior Elyse Bierut paced the Elon female harriers with a fourth-place finish and a personal-best time of 21:38.91 in a race featuring 173 participants.

In the men’s 8K run, Elon was ninth overall in the 18-team field with 219 points. Rookie Nick Ciolkowski was the maroon and gold’s top runner after finishing 17th out of 174 runners with a time of 25:25.39.

About Elon
Bierut has led the Phoenix women in the majority of their races this season and was named the CAA Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week on Sept. 22. The Rocky River, Ohio native garnered All-CAA honors last season at the league championship meet. She was also five-seconds shy of breaking her own school-record in the 5K race at the adidas XC Challenge after clocking in a time of 17:30.8.

Junior Shelby Cuddeback has also had an outstanding season setting a new personal-record in the 5K with a time of 17:36.5 at the adidas XC Challenge. That time is now fourth best in school history.

Fellow junior Kimberly Johansen will look to return to form after missing some time due to injuries. An All-CAA performer a season ago, Johansen last competed at the Wake Forest Invitational on Oct. 16, which was also her season debut. Sabina Bains, Brigid Brennan, Coralea Geraniotis, Chelsea Smith, Kaitlin Snapp and Corey Weiss are also expected to compete for the Phoenix this weekend.

Ciolkowski received his second CAA weekly honor on Oct. 20 and has led the Phoenix men in nearly every race this season. The Fairport, N.Y., native ran the third-fastest time in program history in the 8K at the Greater Louisville Classic. Ciolkowski ran a time of 24:58.17 and finished 68th overall in the men’s gold race that featured a number of nationally and regionally ranked teams and individuals.

Sophomore Sam Geha was Elon’s top finisher at its annual home meet, the Elon Invitational on Sept. 12 and has been among the Phoenix’s top three at every race along with senior Reed Payne. The trio will also compete again on Saturday.

Rounding out the Elon male entries are Carlos Andino, Ryan Gwaltney, Ian O’Leary and Greg Paugh. Of the quartet, only Andino and Gwaltney competed at last year’s CAA Championship meet.

Up Next
Select members of the squad will compete at the NC State hosted Three Stripe Invitational on Nov. 7.