Lock Haven University to Host NCAA Division II East Region Cross Country Championships

LOCK HAVEN, Pa. – The 2005 edition of the NCAA Division II East Region Cross Country championships will commence on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Lock Haven University's West Branch Cross Country Course, as approximately 200 of the region's premier runners will toe the line to challenge for their ticket to the national championship. The women's race is slated for an 11 a.m. start. The men's race begins at noon.

MEN'S PREVIEW: The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) continues to be one of the strongest cross country footholds in the region, featuring the top four regionally-ranked squads headlined by conference champion and defending regional titlist Lock Haven University. The Bald Eagles, ranked tenth nationally, are primed to challenge for a third-straight NCAA East Region title after securing their third consecutive PSAC title just one week ago. Sophomore Shawn Moore paced LHU as the Bald Eagle's top runner at the conference meet, finishing eighth. The Haven also placed another four in the top 20, with junior Chris Robson (11th), junior Aaron Benson (12th), sophomore Greg Davis (13th), and senior Bill Buckenmeyer (19th) rounding out the scoring. With the team running as a pack, any one of them could lead the squad in its quest for the 2005 team trophy.

Edinboro University, currently ranked second in the region and 13th nationally, was just behind Lock Haven at the PSAC championships, finishing only 13 points out of first. The Fighting Scots are led by seniors Ryan Coon and Jared Lowry, who finished in fifth and sixth-place, respectively, at the PSAC meet. With Edinboro's rich tradition of distance running, including last year's seventh-place finish at the NCAA championships, the Scots are another favorite to battle for the top spot.

Currently ranked 15th in the nation, Shippensburg University has also been spending time high in the regional rankings, and was third at last week's PSAC championships. The Red Raiders put two among the PSAC's top ten at that meet, with senior John Somers crossing the finish in fourth and junior Allan Hanslovan taking the seventh-place slot.

Slippery Rock University enters as the fourth-ranked unit in the region riding the success of freshman phenom Jeff Weiss, who took the individual PSAC title on his home course. Ranked 20th in Division II, The Rock will also be focusing on one of the top three team slots for the automatic trip to nationals.

A serious challenge to the top-ranked PSAC teams will come from West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) champion Alderson-Broaddus College. The Battlers, who are ranked fifth in the East Region, topped West Virginia Wesleyan by 23 points for the WVIAC team title. A-B packed five runners into the top-10, including team leaders sophomore Craig Gemberling, who captured the WVIAC individual title, and rookie harrier Ryan Scotnicki, who placed second.

Indiana (Pa.) holds down the No. 6 ranking in the region, paced by PSAC runner-up Jorge Medina. West Virginia Wesleyan University, headlined by third-place WVIAC finisher and freshman Eric Cooper, is currently rated seventh. The PSAC's Bloomsburg University, Clarion University and East Stroudsburg University round out the region's elite.

Third-place WVIAC finisher Concord College, led by sophomore Michael Smutko, was the top team from its conference one year ago at the regional meet, placing fifth.

While the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) does not bring any regionally-ranked squads, two-time league champion Felician College will look to crack this national group. Felician's Paul Chegwidden, a sophomore, was the lead Golden Falcon runner after placing third overall. The CACC's Goldey-Beacom College along with Nyack College will also both look to shake up the ranks of the PSAC and WVIAC teams.

WOMEN'S PREVIEW: The regional field will be hard-pressed to unseat Edinboro University, who enters the meet as the two-time defending East champion. Ranked sixth nationally, the Fighting Scots are undoubtedly one of the favorites after topping the field by 63 points at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championship just one week ago. A blend of youth and experience powers Edinboro, with returning All-American and defending regional champion senior Julie Nemergut and freshman Rachael Lanzel finishing one-two at last week's conference meet. Senior Kelly Richards rounded out the trio of top-five finishers at the PSAC race by placing fifth, and will no doubt be another key player in Edinboro's team title run.

PSAC schools own the top five spots in the women's regional rankings, with Bloomsburg University situated in the second slot in the region and ranked 13th on the national stage. The Huskies, whose second-place finish at the PSAC meet was the highest ever for the women's program, will look to match the effort this weekend. Pacing Bloomsburg will be sophomore Amber Hackenberg, who placed fourth at PSAC's, and freshman Ashley Shuck, who crossed the line in ninth place overall.

Kutztown University has secured the third spot in the region and is rated 16th in the latest national poll. The Golden Bears are led by a pair of freshmen in Joanna Horstmann and Julie Karaszkiewicz. Horstmann took sixth at the conference meet, while her teammate was 13th overall.

IUP is ranked fourth in the region and currently holds down the 17th spot in the national rankings. Senior and PSAC third-place finisher Mindy Sawtelle leads the charge for Indiana. Another contender for one of the top three team spots is Mansfield University, ranked fifth in the East and led by the efforts of junior Rachel Hall, who placed eighth at last weekend's conference championships.

West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) champion West Virginia Wesleyan University looks to break apart this quintet of PSAC schools. Fresh off of edging the region's seventh-ranked Alderson-Broaddus College by a pair of points at the conference meet, Bobcat runners Stephanie Hatfield and Missy Spangler earned second and third place finishes for WV Wesleyan. Alderson-Broaddus' Heather McDaniel, a senior, won the WVIAC individual title and will pace the Battlers' push for regional honors after the team finished eighth as the top WVIAC program one year ago.

Fellow WVIAC representative University of Charleston comes in ranked eighth in the region. Shippensburg University, ninth regionally, and Clarion University, ranked 10th, will also challenge the front runners.

The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) champion, may not have a regional ranking, but the team does have championship experience which should aid in its push for a top-three finish. Nyack College brings the CACC individual champion and Runner of the Year in senior Wendy Muckell, while Holy Family College boasts the CACC Rookie of the Year in Melissa Hale.