Duke men and James Madison women win IC4A

“We rocked ‘em pretty good,” said Norm Oglivie.

The Duke University men’s track and cross country coach had just seen his runners flash over the Van Cortlandt Park finish line in the 3-6-8-10-17 places in a dazzling display Saturday at the 102nd annual Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) Championships and now he had the computer printout that confirmed   just how dominating his athletes had been and the reason for his broad smile.

The numbers said it all: Duke, taking the IC4A crown over the five-mile route for a third straight year, netted the low-low score of 44 team points.  Runner-up Duquesne: 141. Sharing third place: Harvard and Central Connecticut, 147 each. Fifth: Marist, 162, in the 19-team field.

 The co-featured ECAC Women’s Championship Division team race, over 5,000 meters,  was a lot closer than the men’s - James Madison won it over William and Mary, 47-79, with LaSalle (90) and Columbia (94) hard on their heels in the 12-team pack. 

And the JMU team, out of Harrisonburg, Va., made it a double celebration when its fifth-year senior Alison Parris won the individual gold medal in 17:27.4.

Not since Princeton ran off with the 1997-98-99 crowns had any school claimed three IC4A Championship Division crowns in succession, and none of those Tigers’ titles had been by a margin as huge as the 2010 Blue Devils’ 97 points.

Solid, quantity depth paid this decided Duke dividend.

“We had a squad of nine and felt that six of those guys were capable of running in a group, and we wanted that group to position themselves in the top 15 by the mile,” said Oglivie. “They followed those instructions really nicely.

“They were all there at the mile, at around 4:47, and continued to run as a pack past the two-mile, in 9:45. Then, it was on the back hills that Mike (Moverman, the Duke team leader, a sophomore from Easton, Mass. out of Oliver Ames HS.) got up with the leaders.

“I asked him ‘were you thinking about (his big race at ) Footlocker Northeast two years ago and he said, ‘yes I was.’  That confidence and knowledge of the course paid off for him.”

Moving as well as he was, the aptly-named Moverman still couldn’t overhaul the individual front-runners.

The gold medal went to Rider University senior Christian Gonzalez with a stellar 24:52.7 clocking over the five-mile route, as the only man to best the 25-minute mark, and the first IC4A champion under 25 since Charles Moran of James Madison took the 2006 gold in 24:38.1.  Along the way, he became the first-ever IC4A XC champion for the Mercer County, NJ Rider Broncs.

   “I knew this is my last cross country race for Rider, and I wanted to win it badly,” said Gonzalez. a senior out of Franklin High, Somerset, NJ who seems to be coming on like gangbusters.
  “Four miles into the NCAA Regionals, I got tripped from behind and it threw me badly off my game.  I certainly didn’t want to have my season end like that.

  “To be an IC4A champion, that means a lot.  I know how much history there is here. I wanted to win something big, and this is it. I can’t tell you how happy I am. I like uphills better than downhills. I probably broke it open going up Cemetery Hill (in the final mile.)”

   Claiming the silver was Central Connecticut’s Craig Hunt with a 25:02.1 performance that not only made him the first sophomore over the line but the first Blue Devil, as well.   (Central Connecticut’s athletes, like Duke’s, are Blue Devils, too.)

    Hunt (25:02.1) had just enough to hold off Moverman’s 25:03.5 with another Central Connecticut man, senior Ry Sanderson, next over the line 25:08.9, nosing out Duquesne senior team leader Mark Bucklaw (25:09.3.)

   And once these top-individual medals were decided (and presented by IC4A track administrator Steve Bartold), it was time to focus on team honors.

    But not for long.

    Backing up Moverman were freshman Brian Atkinson (sixth in 25:10.7), freshman Domenick DeMatteo (eighth in 25:14.8), freshman Clint McKelvey (10th in 25:19.4) and sophomore Dominick Robinson (17th in 25:28.4.)

    And considering that this young group was really Duke’s second unit (Duke’s front-runners, like many other IC4A-school top guns, were at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana), the Durham, NC team’s show of depth was even more impressive.

    JMU’s Alison Parris had hoped to run the NCAA Championships -at which she was 71st  in 2009 - but it wasn’t to be, after missing out by a single place  at the Regionals.

   But this ECAC win surely made major amends.

  While Parris’ 17:27.4 was far off Lucy Van Dalen’s winning pace of 17:03.0 for Stony Brook in 2009, it was also the second-best winner’s clocking since Sylvia Chelimo ran 17:23.1 for Gardner-Webb back in 2000.

   “The first loop (around the Van Cortlandt flats) was at a controlled pace, nothing too fast, nothing crazy,” said Parris, a graduate of Patuxent High School out of Saint Leonard, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. “Two others were challenging me pretty well. Once I was in the back woods, though, I really picked it up and brought it all the way home.

  “Probably halfway through, I thought I had it. I know I have a strong kick, I wasn’t going to let anyone pass me. I     knew they were in striking distance but I wasn’t going to let them strike any further.

  “Missing the NCAA, that was tough, but honestly, I am so glad to be here with my team.

  “In high school, I was just an average runner, but I’ve really been sticking with it. I’ve been getting better ever since.

  “James Madison is a great school, and I’ve loved all five years there.”

    Lending championship-quality support to Parris were JMU teammates, sophomore Katie Harman (fifth in 17:49.6), sophomore Stacey Nobles (10th in 17:52.6 despite knee problems), sophomore Katie Gorman (12th in 17:53.1) and junior Jessic Zozos (19th in 18:17.8.)

   “This is a great victory for the girls,” said JMU coach Dave Rinker.
“They really wanted to come in here and get it done.  The course can be very tricky. If you don’t study it well, it can be disconbobulating.

    “Alison, she’s come a long way. Every year, she’s worked very hard, put in the miles. She’s just a dream to work with.

   “It’s been quite a while since we won the ECAC (2001, in fact.) It’s always a great thrill to win it.”

    Commonwealth of Virginia women occupied five of the top six individual places, with Parris and Harman going 1-5 for JMU, George Mason sophomore Laura Sinclair second in 17:33.7, and William and Mary’s Kathleen Lautzenheiser fourth (17:41.4) and Betsy Graney sixth (17:50.4.)  Only non-Virginia runner among them was third-placer Katie Matthews of Boston U. (third in 17:37.2.)

 The six-race card also included University Division races for men and women, plus Coaches Races for reserve runners.

 Temple University men, led by individual winner Mike May (25:24.8) retained their University Division team title, 111-115-130, over Connecticut and Fordham. Close on May’s heels was runner-up Tobias Lundgren of Manhattan (25:27.8.) For May, it also carried on a family tradition - his Dad was a member of Millersville’s winning team in this race in 1978.

 It was Sacred Heart’s Kimberly DeLoreto topping the women’s University Division field in 18:01.6, over Marist’s Kiersten Anderson (18:10.3), and Albany besting Monmouth and Towson, 49-99-104, for team honors.

 LaSalle’s Kasey Gellar (26:55.6) and William and Mary’s Charlotte Tregelles were Coaches Races winners.

   While the IC4A, which once was the nation’s most prestigious collegiate XC meet, has long since lost that status, the solid support it continues to get from many of the region’s top programs is a tribute to its long-term viability and long-running traditions.

  The first IC4A race was held in 1908, the first NCAA Championships in 1938. For a stretch, the IC4A/ECAC event served as the NCAA Regional meet, but with the coming of separate NCAA Regional races, the IC4A/ECAC was relegated to new status.

  But, as Duke’s Oglivie put it: “We’re always happy to come up here and support the IC4A. We’ve got seven guys going to the NCAAs and five of them are seniors. Hopefully, our next group of NCAA runners will come out of the guys that ran today.

  “I’ve told them all, ‘If you want to go to the NCAAs next year, you’ve got to cut your teeth on the IC4As, you’ve got to win here, And that’s been our formula, for three straight years now.”

   Fordham University and the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Track and Field Coaches Association were the official hosts of the meet.  Columbia’s men (seventh place) and women (fourth) led all NYC squads; top NYC individuals were Lions, too - Patrick DeSabbato, 15th in the men’s race, and Emily Lanois, seventh in the women’s.