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Roster and Success Grow for Women's Cross County Team


West Windsor, N.J. – While bad weather and travel issues prevented the women’s cross country team from getting its chance to compete at the national tournament, head coach Erin Cahill believes that this season’s roster of runners has much to be proud of and many ways they can measure their success.

Cahill calculates that success by reflecting back to 2010, the team’s inaugural year, in which only two runners completed the season. This year, for the first time, the Vikings fielded a full scoring team of runners at all six regular season meets, as well as at the Region 19 championship meet on Oct. 27.

At the highly competitive Paul Short Invitational meet on Sept. 28, the MCCC squad finished ahead of six other teams.  At the Region 19 championship, the women came in only 11 points behind Essex CC, a team that included an All-American among its runners.

“I would consider it a very competitive season,” Cahill said.  “The program has made great strides, quite literally, and in just three years, we have come a very long way.”

Cahill is especially proud of the efforts of her two top returning runners, sophomores Sierra Downs and Erika Manley. “Sierra was such a great leader for us on and off the field," Cahill said.  She was consistent at every meet and always worked hard and pushed herself in practice.  Erika missed some early meets due to injury, but came back strong and was our top finisher at regionals, edging out her teammate, Sierra, at the finish.”  Manley finished 4th and Downs finished 5th in that race; both earned All-Region honors.

The Vikings also had some newcomers who performed well, with freshmen Shelby Miller and Diana Taveras finishing 7th and 8th respectively at the Region 19 championship and  earning All-Region honors. Three other freshmen, Kira Constantino, Melissa Clair and Karizma Brown, all practiced hard and made real progress during the season.

Pictured with the Region 19 runner-up plaque are, from left, Cai-Cai Hahn, Melissa Clair, Kira Costantino, Shelby Miller, Diana Taveras, Head Coach Erin Cahill, Jaqueline Goncalves, Simone Cioccari, Sierra Downs and Erika Manley. Not pictured: Assistant Coach Chris Wetzel.

The team's two strongest runners, Sierra Downs (foreground) and Erika Manley at the Paul Short Invitational.

In addition to Downs and Manley, sophomores Jaqueline Goncalves and Simone Cioccari also completed two full seasons with the women’s cross country program.  “I appreciate the commitment of these four girls to help build our program,” Cahill said.

Cahill acknowledges her runners’ disappointment at not competing at nationals. “The season may not have ended the way we wanted, but the girls made a tremendous effort this year and they should be proud of what they accomplished.  We had our best finishes at the meets we entered, including the Region 19 championship.  We also fielded our largest team.  I anticipate that our freshmen will come back even more motivated next year.”

Cahill was assisted this season by Chris Wetzel.

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