Conference Champs: Men’s And Women’s Cross Country Teams Win Atlantic 10

MXC and WXC posing with their new hardware.

By: James Dronzek – Staff Writer

The University of Dayton cross country program set out to be a dominate force within its conference this year, and on Saturday they proved they are.

Both the men and the women placed first and took home the title of Atlantic 10 Champions on Oct. 28, at Oatlands Plantation in Fairfax, Virginia.

“We’ve put in a lot of work leading up to this race, so it was very gratifying to see all of our hard work come together in this race,” said junior Taylor Vernot.

After the men won the A-10 conference championship last year and the women placed second, it had been a main focus for head coach Jason Ordway and the runners to sweep the conference meet this year.

However, they knew it would be no easy task. Plenty of teams came out to compete and the field of runners that the Flyers had to run against held their own throughout the race.

“There was definitely a lot of competition in this race compared to other races, so it was a pretty fast race, especially considering how difficult the course was,” said freshman University of Rhode Island runner Ashley Evans.

With all of the talented runners participating in the race, Dayton was unable to claim the top two spots in either race, as Manuel de Backer from Saint Louis and Thomas Slattery from Fordham were 1st and 2nd in the men’s 8K, while Heather MacLean from UMass Amherst and Sarah Sears of Davidson took the top spots in the women’s 5K.

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Although there wasn’t one Flyer that outlasted all of the competition, coach Ordway knew going in that his team didn’t need to rely on a star.

“It shows our depth that we don’t just need one or two studs,” said Ordway. “We talked all season about how this is a team effort, and we were willing to sacrifice an individual result to pull the team together.”

Individually, Dayton claimed plenty of spots in the top 20 in both races, as junior Chris Negri  (3rd place, 25:22), sophomore J.P. Flavin (4th place, 25:23), junior Spencer Danielson (13th place, 25:37), and senior Tyler Adgalanis (14th place, 25:42) were the top performers, with senior Tom Clark (32nd place, 26:19) rounding out the top five. The men’s score of 66 was 18 points better than Saint Joseph’s, who came in second.

“We knew coming in nobody was going to come in, roll over, and give us the title,” Negri said. “It was a relief to win and just gave us pure happiness.”

As for the women, junior Taylor Vernot (3rd place, 17:53), senior Emily Leonard (4th place, 17:56), sophomore Chloe Flora (6th place, 18:04), junior Emily Borchers ( 9th place, 18:14), and senior Grace McDonald (20th place, 18:32) rounded out the top five. Their score of 42 was 19 points better than the second place Richmond team.

With a top team came a top-of-the-line game plan, and the Flyers executed it just how coach Ordway wanted.

“We had never seen the course before, and we heard that there were hills and that the course ran a little bit slow,” Ordway said. “We worked on timing, our second half racing, and finding your teammates, and it all helped us out in the end.”

Throughout the season, the Dayton XC program set out to achieve this goal and held the A-10 title to a very high standard, but they still feel that they have more left to prove.

“Our season’s not over,” said Vernot. “We have a lot left to prove in our region as well, and we are looking to be top 10 or top 8 there.”

The Flyers next event will be held Nov. 10 in Terre Haute, Indiana for the Great Lakes Regional race.

Photo Taken from Dayton Cross Country twitter