Cross Country Begins 2016 With Elon Opener

ELON, N.C. – The Elon University cross country programs will kick off the 2016 season with the third annual Elon Opener on Thursday, Sept. 1, at teams’ cross country course. The women’s 4K race begins at 6 p.m. followed by the men’s 5K at 6:30 p.m.


Follow @EU_XCTF
Updates of the meet will be posted on Twitter at the programs’ handle, @EU_XCTF. Other updates will also be provided at the handle, @elonscores.

About the Field
Elon will be joined at the meet by teams from North Carolina, UNCG, High Point, Coastal Carolina, Meredith and UNC Pembroke. About 200 runners total will compete at the meet.

“I am really looking forward to opening up our season at home this week,” said Elon head cross country coach Nick Polk. “This is the first time competing at Elon for many of these teams. There are some strong teams coming so it will allow us to get a gauge of where we are at this point in the season.”

Elevated Expectations
The Phoenix women’s team enters 2016 with its highest preseason regional ranking ever. In the 2016 Southeast Preseason Regional Rankings announced by the U.S. Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Monday, Elon was placed No. 6 behind NC State, Virginia, William & Mary, Virginia Tech and Furman. Elon’s previous high in the preseason regional rankings was No. 9 in 2014.

Men’s Preview
The Elon male harriers will look to replace three of its top seven runners from last season, but returns Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Cross Country Runner and Rookie of the Year Nick Ciolkowski back for his sophomore season. Ciolkowski became the second straight Phoenix runner to claim the league’s individual title and the first athlete to be selected both the CAA Athlete and Rookie of the Year.

Elon also has junior Carlos Andino and sophomore Greg Paugh as far as runners returning that competed at the NCAA regional meet last season. Others to keep an eye on this season includes junior Justin Leopold, sophomore Josh Kruppa, redshirt freshmen Michael Germinario, Colton Lawson, Cooper Jansson along with incoming first-years Ian Mickool, Richie Kasper and Andrew Dyer.

Women’s Preview
The Phoenix women returns five of its top seven runners that ran at the NCAA Southeast Regional Championships and earned the program its highest finish ever at the regional meet with a seventh-place standing. Prior to the meet, Elon had not been ranked any higher than 15th in the regional rankings during the 2015 season.

Headlining the returners includes senior Kimberly Johansen, who became the second female runner in school history to receive All-Region accolades. She also was an All-CAA runner after finishing sixth overall at the league meet with the second-fastest time in school history in the 6K with a time of 20:58.

Sophomore Coralea Geraniotis also returns after the Orleans, Mass., native was named the CAA Rookie of the Year after finishing 15th at the league championships with a time of 21:45.6. Senior Shelby Cuddeback set a new personal-best at the CAA meet with a time of 21:37.9 while junior Brigid Brennan and sophomore Chelsea Smith also were part of the top seven group at the NCAA regional championships. The Phoenix also has returning junior Corey Weiss and redshirt sophomores Alicia DeCastro and Carolyn Hopkins looking to also make an impact this season while welcoming seven new runners into the fold for 2016.

Up Next
Following Elon Opener, the Phoenix will host its second meet of the season with the eighth annual Elon Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 10. The men’s 8K starts at 10 a.m. followed by the women’s 5K at 11 a.m.