CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The America East cross country season will culminate this Saturday in Durham, N.H., as the University of New Hampshire hosts the conference championship meet. Each team will have its sights set on the Albany men and the Stony Brook women, as those two squads take aim at repeating as champions. The action kicks off with the men's 8k race at 10 a.m., followed by the women's 5k race at 11 a.m.
The men’s race is sure to be an exciting one with a wide open field and no clear favorite for either the team or individual crown. Defending champion Albany brings back three of its scoring five from a year ago, but is without the top two runners from that group. Senior Ethan Clary (Schuylerville, N.Y.) will lead the Great Danes. Clary finished fifth in the Pre-Conference meet held at New Hampshire earlier this season against three squads that will be at the championship on Saturday.
New Hampshire leads a group of teams looking to knock off Albany. The Wildcats appeared in the Northeast Regional rankings twice this season, coming in at No. 15 two weeks in a row. After a runner-up showing at the Pre-Conference meet, New Hampshire is looking to make the most of its home-course advantage.
The men are guaranteed to have a new individual champion this year and the competition is wide open. Stony Brook’s Eric Speakman (Napier, New Zealand) and Maine’s Kelton Cullenberg (Chesterville, Maine) will join Clary and a pair of New Hampshire harriers in Daniel Decrescenzo (New Milford, Conn.) and Cory Sinotte (Manchester, N.H.) in a strong group of men’s contenders. Brandan McGee (Hiram, Ohio) of UMBC and Binghamton's Jesse Garn (Marcellus, N.Y.) are also runners to watch on Saturday.
The women’s race will feature three squads ranked in the Northeast region, led by New Hampshire at No. 12. The Wildcats boast a balanced roster, led by freshman Laura Rose Donegan (Melbourne, Australia). Right behind the Wildcats is defending champion Stony Brook at No. 13. The Seawolves, behind a pair of runners from New Zealand in Olivia Burne (Palmerston North) and Annie Keown (Auckland), are looking to capture a sixth straight team crown. This would be the longest America East women’s streak since Boston U. won seven straight from 1996-2002. No. 15 Vermont will challenge those two squads behind the efforts of senior Kirsten Weberg (East Aurora, N.Y.). Earlier this year, the Catamounts won the Pre-Conference meet in Durham.
In the hunt for the individual crown, Maine’s Corey Conner (West Townsend, Mass.), the 2008 individual champion, figures to be the favorite after dominating her only three races of the season, winning by an average margin of over one minute. Donegan gave Conner her toughest test of the season at the Pre-Conference meet and will be one of the top contenders for the women’s crown. Along with Burne, Keown and Weberg, Albany’s Brittaney Lane (Greenwich, N.Y.) and Hartford's Megan Barry (South Yarmouth, Mass.) will also be in contention.
Visit Championship Central on AmericaEast.com for course maps, meet history and more. You can also follow the action on Twitter (@AmericaEast) as the first champions of 2012-13 are crowned.