RINDGE, N.H. (November 8, 2019) – The cross country season reaches its crescendo on Saturday, as the Franklin Pierce University cross country program heads to the Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia for the NCAA Championship East Regional, hosted by Thomas Jefferson University. The 6k women's race is set for a noon start, with the men's 10k race to follow at 1:15 p.m.
Bids to the national championship race will be on the line in Philadelphia, as well as at each of the other seven regional competition sites across the country. The top three teams at the East Regional will automatically advance to the Nov. 23 national championship, along with the top two individual runners not on a qualifying team. Additional at-large bids are available, for both teams and individuals, via a formula which will be applied after the completion of all regional competition.
Head coach Zach Emerson has labeled the Belmont Plateau course as one of the hardest courses in the entire East Region. He describes it as "very hilly, with technically challenging footing," which means teams will have to bring their finest performances to compete for the coveted bids to the national championship.
Scouting the Ravens
The Ravens are coming off one of the most successful outings in program history at the Northeast-10 Conference Championships two weeks ago. The men's team boasted three All-Conference finishers on the way to a fourth-place finish, while the women had an All-NE10 runner of their own to go with a program-best sixth-place finish.
On the men's side, the Ravens are led by a one-two punch of junior Hugo Arlabosse (Marseille, France) and sophomore Riley Fenoff (Danville, Vt.). The former took fourth at NE10s to earn All-Conference First Team honors, while the latter took 13th to wrap up All-NE10 Second Team honors, but either is capable of leading the squad on a given day. Senior Jason Reed (Foxborough, Mass.) provides important depth for the men's team, and is coming off of a 14th-place finish and All-NE10 Second Team accolades two weeks ago.
For the men, one of the biggest challenges is the length of the race itself. "With the men running their only 10k of the season, we try to emphasize patience and running the second half of the race faster than the first," said Emerson. "Then we let the chips fall where they may as a team. I think they could do very well if they execute… They certainly have the potential to finish in the top five, with a hope that they can overachieve and squeak out a bid to the national finals."
Emerson added he expected both Arlabosse and Fenoff to be among those who could contend for berths to the national championship race as individuals, if the team does not qualify.
Meanwhile, the women are led by junior Marissa Farago (Salisbury, Mass.), who chalked up her first career All-NE10 award with a 15th-place finish two weeks ago to earn Third Team honors. The Ravens put all five of their scoring runners in the top 50 at the NE10 Championship. In a way, the team's success is defined by the back half of its scoring contingent, as the third through sixth Ravens across the line at NE10s all finished within a minute of each other. A surge or drop-off from just a couple athletes in that group could dramatically alter the team's performance in one direction or the other.
Seniors Julia Cormier (Northwood, N.H.) and Rebecca Zylak (Goffstown, N.H.), along with junior Lauren Stankiewicz (Naugatuck, Conn.) provide veteran depth down the docket for the Ravens.
For the women, Emerson has his sights set on a new program high-water mark. "The women are looking to finish in the top 10 for the first time in program history, but it will be tough, as a lot of teams should be bunched closely between fourth and 12th place," said Emerson. "So, it really is all about bringing it on race day and competing for every spot."
Emerson added Farago could compete for a spot in the top 25 and All-Region honors, which would make her the first woman in program history to accomplish the feat.
For further information pertaining to the NCAA Championship East Regional, including directions to the meet site, course maps and live video coverage, visit Jefferson's Championship Central page at: http://jeffersonrams.com/2019eastregional
As mentioned above, the top three teams, plus the top two individuals not on a qualifying team, will automatically qualify for the national championship race. The NCAA Championship National Final is set for Saturday, Nov. 23, at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in Sacramento, Calif. California State, Sacramento, along with the Sacramento Sports Corporation, will serve as the hosts.
Advancing competitors from the East Region will be joined in Sacramento by qualifiers from each of the seven other regional meets being conducted across the country on Saturday.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (https://www.fpuravens.com). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce cross country apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (https://www.fpuravens.com/store).