Spartan Runners Win Conference Title

Despite the horrible conditions caused by severe winds and heavy rain, Castleton’s cross country teams completed a sweep of the NAC championships on their home turf. The men’s and women’s squads provided strong outings to win their respective conference titles, with each sporting at least three runners in the top 10. The sweep of both races gave the two Castleton teams their first NAC cross country title since 2002.

Competing against seven other colleges, the Spartan women kept themselves focused and had a team score of 33 points, which put them ahead of second-place Maine-Farmington by only nine points.

Junior Katie Sprowl led the way with a second place finish, followed by freshman Elizabeth Halnon and junior Justine Campbell. Halnon and Campbell finished in third and fourth place, respectively. The team’s fourth top-ten finisher was freshman Maggie Klein, who crossed the finish line in eighth place.

With their impressive performances, Sprowl, Halnon and Campbell were named to the NAC All-Conference team.

“Everyone did exactly what they needed to in order for us to win the NAC’s,” said Sprowl, the women’s team captain. “We knew the race would be tough, but we really came together as a team.”

The men’s team picked up where the women left off, capturing the conference crown in impressive fashion. In the men’s 8 km run, Castleton featured a trio of top finishers and placed first among the five teams competing.

Junior Chris Gatchell continued to be the Spartans’ strongest runner, finishing just ahead of teammate Nick Grasso in second place. Grasso’s third place finish was his best performance of the year.

Freshman Michael Sullivan completed the race almost a minute after fellow freshman Grasso to finish in fourth place. The three Spartan runners each earned a spot on the NAC All-Conference team.

Throughout the season, Castleton’s male runners had to deal with issues bigger than the weekly meets.

“I was very impressed with how the team was able to handle personal issues and constant injuries,” men’s coach John Klein said. “Through dealing with these problems, we had a better sense of cohesiveness than teams of years past.”

In their first season working together as Castleton’s head coaches, Blair Marelli and John Klein helped put the team in position to extend their recent success, after winning the conference title last weekend.

The next challenge for the Spartans is the ECAC Championships, which will be held this Saturday at Williamstown, Mass.

“We will be matched up with some of the best runners in the country these next two meets,” Klein said. “Although we are not able to recruit with some of the bigger teams, our runners work really hard to improve each week and give us a chance to compete with these big schools.

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