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Back-to-Back Champs: Wilmington Men’s Cross Country Sweeps its Way to CACC Title; Women Fifth Overall

CC: CACC Championship: Men 1st/12; Women 5th/12

Sunday, October 27, 2013 - Philadelphia, Pa.

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All seven competitors finishing in the Top 15, leading to all seven earning a sport on the All-CACC team. Back Row: Tyler Muse (3rd), Richie Mitten (1st), Jesus Amezquita (2nd), Mike O'Brian (4th), Ken Fontal (5th); Front Row: (Marshall Hawkins (10th), Matt Mossman (14th). Copyright 2013; Wilmington University. All rights reserved.



Junior Richie Mitten takes home the medalist honors at the 2013 CACC Cross Country Championships in a time of 26:43. Copyright 2013; Wilmington University. All rights reserved.



Head Coach Keith Jones was voted as the 2013 CACC Men's Coach of the Year for the second year in a row. Copyright 2013; Wilmington University. All rights reserved.

In totally dominating fashion, the Wilmington University men’s cross country team can call itself back-to-back Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Champions, sweeping its way to the title while the women’s team placed fifth overall on Sunday on Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park.

It is thought to be the first time a team swept all Top-5 positions on the result sheet in CACC history, and officially is dating back to the 2001 season. For the sweep, the Wildcats picked up a perfect 15 points.

Junior Richie Mitten became the second Wildcat to earn medalist honors at the CACC Championship since Wilmington joined the NCAA ranks for the 2004 season. Mitten beat the field of 75 runners with a time of 26:43, pacing the pack of seven Wildcats in the Top-15. For the result of today’s meet, Mitten has been named the 2013 CACC Men’s Runner of the Year.

Mitten is the first Wildcat to win the CACC Championship since Bill Steele won the event as a sophomore in 2010. Kyle Barnum also earned medalist honors for the Wildcats in 2002, when Wilmington was still known as Wilmington College and competed in the NAIA.  

Sophomore Jesus Amezquita trailed Mitten by four seconds to cross the line at 26:47 for second place overall. Amezquita and Mitten fought head to head for the final mile of the race on who would take home the Runner of the Year honor.

Junior Tyler Muse was third for the Wildcats, crossing the line at 27:18 followed by graduate student Mike O’Brian six seconds later at 27:24.

Freshman Ken Fontal rounded out the sweep and the scoring for the Wildcats with a fifth place finish, crossing the line at 27:27. For his effort and the first freshman to finish the race, Fontal was named the CACC Men’s Rookie of the Year.

It is the second year in a row a Wildcat was named the Men’s Rookie of the Year, as Amezquita earned the award last season after an eighth place finish at the 2012 Championships. It is also the second year in a row that head coach Keith Jones was named CACC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year, voted on by the conference’s Sports Information Directors.

Marshall Hawkins finished just outside the top five scorers for the Wildcats, as the graduate student was the sixth Wildcat to finish, coming in 10th overall with a time of 27:57. Junior Matt Mossman also narrowly missed the scoring for the Wildcats, coming in 14th overall with a time of 28:28.

The CACC recognizes the Top-15 finishers as its All-CACC Team, meaning all seven Wilmington participants were honored as All-CACC.

The women were up next following the men’s race on Sunday and senior Jeanette Halliburton paced the Wildcats to a fifth place finish with 150 points. The Wildcats also placed fifth in last year championship as well.

Halliburton, battling injuries all season long, came out and placed 10th overall with a time of 20:48. The Top-15 women were also named All-CACC in a presentation following the event, as Halliburton was named All-CACC for the second season in a row. She finished fourth overall in the 2012 CACC Championship.

Graduate student Tijen Ozcan placed 21st overall with a time of 21:51 while senior SaraBeth Oppermann was the third Wildcat to finish with a time of 22:19. Oppermann finished 33rd overall. Sophomore Morgan Ferrick placed 29th overall with a time of 22:33 while senior Penelope Fantis was the final scorer for the Wildcats in 47th place with a time of 23:11, giving Wilmington 150 points.

Freshman Jordan Swain also competed for the Wildcats, placing 64th overall in a time of 24:36. Junior Chelsie Maher was the final Wilmington competitor, coming in 70th overall in a time of 26:01.

Nyack College took the women’s overall time with 32 points, but it was University of the Sciences’ Brianna Ligotski who took home medalist honors for the women with a time of 19:36.

The Wildcats will now prepare for the NCAA Division II East Regional Championship on November 9. The men’s team was ranked fourth in the latest USTFCCCA East Region Poll while both teams will look to finish in the top three to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II National Championship.

The NCAA East Regional Championship will be run at Franklin Park in Boston, Mass. on the morning of Saturday, November 9.