NEW YORK – The Columbia men’s and women’s cross country teams swept all the top spots to take first place at the Vermont Invitational in Williston, Vt. today, opening the 2010 season in style.
For the women, senior Julianne Quinn was the top finisher, as she came in first overall, with a time of 18:52.83 in the 5050 meter run. She was followed by six of her teammates, one right after the other: sophomore Erin Gillingham (18:53.26), sophomore Clare Buck (18:53.66), sophomore Caroline McDonough (18:54.08), junior Leila Norman (18:54.56) and sophomore Emily Lanois (18:55.03). Six other Columbia runners came in the top 25, giving the women a perfect team score of 15. The Lions’ nearest competitors, second place Lipscomb, scored 59 team points.
The men we just as dominant in their 8k run, as Columbia took the top nine spots, and three more in the top 20. Sophomore Benjamin Veilleux took the top individual honors, as he came in first in 25:34.23, but just like Quinn on the women’s side, he was joined by a pack of his teammates: senior Anthony Merra (25:34.62), senior Thomas Poland (25:34.92), junior Justin Heck (25:35.22), sophomore Mike Murphy (25:35.45), first-year Jacob Sienko (25:35.74), first-year Nico Composto (25:36.05), sophomore Mark Feigen (25:50.35), and senior Terence Prial (25:59.05). The men also scored a perfect 15 points, while second place Vermont came in with 60.
“We asked our team to run as a pack and work together,” Director of Cross Country/Track & Field Willy Wood said. “They executed the plan perfectly. On the women's side Leila Norman and Erin Gillingham paced the team through for first three miles. Anthony Merra and Tom Poland set the pace for the men. I couldn't have been more pleased with the outcome of today's races.”
Up next for both squads is the Iona Meet of Champions, which will take place Saturday, September 18 at 9:30 a.m. in a familiar place for the Lions: Van Cortlandt Park, in the Bronx.