William & Mary

Tribe cross-country teams rule the CAA

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One word best describes William and Mary’s men’s and women’s cross-country teams when it comes to Colonial Athletic Association competition.

Unbeatable.

Saturday at Boston’s cold and muddy Franklin Park, the Tribe men extended one of the nation’s longest streaks to 15 years with its victory in the CAA championships. Only Iona, which has 24 straight cross-country titles in the MAAC, has a longer streak.

Meanwhile on the same course, the W&M women won their third straight CAA crown by placing four runners in the top eight overall to finish with 35 points.

W&M's win was led by redshirt-junior Carolyn Hennessey, who claimed her first CAA gold with a 20:45.35 performance on the 6K course. It was her fifth race of the season, fifth time leading the Tribe and her second win. Hennessey became the eighth woman in school history to win the CAA cross-country title.

The men’s 15-year streak is tied for the fifth-longest ever in Division I, matching the total by Butler between 1998-2012.  Overall, W&M cross country has won 37 conference titles, the third-highest total in NCAA history. The Tribe also made CAA history with its 22nd conference title, matching W&M's women's tennis team for the most-ever in a single sport in conference history.

The men placed six on the all-conference team to finish with 36 points, ahead of Northeastern at 48 and conference-newcomer Elon at 85. 

Leading the way for W&M was junior Ryan Gousse, who finished second in 25:04.83 for his best-ever place at the CAA cross-country championships. This was his first race leading the Tribe this season, and his second consecutive appearance in the top-five at the CAA meet after finishing fifth in 2013.

 The Tribe didn't have another runner until seventh place, but had five runners come across together in a terrific display of pack running.  Freshman Mac Haight led the way in 25:16.11 for seventh place, the only rookie in the top 10, and sophomores Faris Sakallah and Trevor Sleight were next in eighth and ninth, respectively. Sakallah stopped the clock in 25:21.48, and Sleight was close on his heels in 25:22.82.  Another second back was redshirt-junior Nathaniel Hermsmeier, who was 10th in 25:23.53, and freshman Chris Hoyle also made it onto the All-CAA squad with his 11th-place 25:27.66. The final runner in W&M's varsity seven was redshirt-sophomore Jacob Sears, who crossed the line in 25:43.49 to finish 16th.

Other Tribe women who finished in the top 12 to earn all-conference honors were freshman Regan Rome, who was fourth overall in 21:04.98. She was the highest-placing rookie in the meet, and the only one on the All-CAA team. Junior Meghan McGovern and senior Dylan Hassett finished back-to-back in seventh and eighth, timing 21:20.08 and 21:27.10, respectively. This was Hassett's third straight appearance on the All-CAA squad, and the second for McGovern.

In addition to being W&M's third-straight CAA team title, this was also the 20th conference championship all-time for the Tribe. W&M is just the fourth program in Division I history to win 20 or more conference titles, joining Eastern Kentucky (26), BYU (24) and N.C. State (21).  In the CAA, the Tribe women's cross country team is just the third program to reach 20 titles, joining W&M's men's cross country and women's tennis squads (22 each).

Next up for both squads is the Southeast Region Championships, on Friday, Nov. 14, in Louisville, Ky.