2014 CROSS COUNTRY SEASON PREVIEW: LOOKING AT ALL THE TEAMS AS THEY GEAR UP FOR CACC CHAMPIONSHIP RACE

2014 CROSS COUNTRY SEASON PREVIEW: LOOKING AT ALL THE TEAMS AS THEY GEAR UP FOR CACC CHAMPIONSHIP RACE

New Haven, Conn. (9/5/14) The 2014 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) cross country season is about to get underway, and all teams within the league will be gearing up over the next several weeks for the conference championship on Nov. 2.

Before championship weekend is upon the CACC harriers, they will be taking part in several top events throughout the Northeast. In fact, several of those events kick off this weekend at various sites.

The following is a look at both the men's and women's programs from the schools around the conference:

Bloomfield College

Men: Luis Romero and Johnny Vega had several strong individual performances in 2013, and they will both look to turn those into even more success in 2014. Those two, along with returnees Isaac Rodriguez and Jamel Schuler, will look to set the tone for Bloomfield as it tries to reach its goals this season. The Bears have several newcomers entering into the fold including freshman Carlos Palma, who is expected to make a run at a top-five spot right away.

Women: The Bears return a trio of runners from last season, which will look to provide leadership throughout the season including Lissette Castillo, Jen Rodriguez and Ariel Wilson. Newcomers Stephanie Cuaycong, D'liyah Brown-Florence and Sashagay Spence all will look to content for a top-five spot on the team throughout the year.

Caldwell University

Men: The Cougars will field a men's cross country team for the first time under the guidance of Patrick Sullivan, who has been the women's cross country coach for the past four seasons. Among the newcomers are Nicholas Calixto and Kevin Villalta, who both earned all-Hudson County honors as teammates at Memorial High School in West New York, N.J.

Women: The Cougars return their top six runners from last year's squad that finished ninth at the CACC Championships. Junior Taylor Landis, who won the 800 meters at the 2014 CACC Track & Field Championships, leads the returnees. Freshmen Tabitha MacKenzie, Lila Morreale and Victoria Thaler are expected to strengthen a deep and experienced lineup. 

Chestnut Hill College

Men: The Griffins boasted a young squad in 2013, but that experience returns this season to help guide an additional six freshmen coming into the mix. The team's MVP from a year ago returns in Samuel Mondello, who posted four top-20 finishes. Eric Barton, the Coach's Award winner in 2013, is back after a nice finish to last season when he was the highest Griffin to place at the NCAA regional championship. Newcomers who will impact the Griffins include Giancarlo Martines, Luis Cordero, and Shaquille Haye.

Women: With an expanded roster that included several talented freshmen in 2013, the Griffins set program records in both the 5k and 6k formats. A pair of juniors turned in strong performances from a season ago including Paige Antall and Samantha McCarthy. Antall headlined the early season success with consistent sub-23 minute runs. Newcomers who will impact the Griffins this upcoming season are Emily Bensen-Abotangelo, Tatiana Regan and former volleyball player Mary Markowski.

Concordia College

Men: The men will be led by junior Victor Palumbo, who earned All-CACC honors from a season ago.

Women: The women's squad was young last season, but return several experienced runners for 2014.

Dominican College

Women: The Dominican College women's cross country team sees a change at the helm for the 2014-2015 season as Howie McNiff takes over for Abdias Suero, who retired. The team will return four runners from last year including senior Renee Roncace, Emily Lopez, Khadijah Cox and Erica Pate.

Felician College

Men: The Felician men will feature a more youthful squad in 2014, but do return four-time CACC Rookie of the Week Mike Secreti and two-time all-conference honoree Keenan Huggins-Filozof.

Women: The Felician women return all eight runners from the 2013 team that finished third in the CACC, plus add walkons Zharde Sellona from the softball team and first-year sophomore Tasha Gonel. Sophomore Sabrina Roldan became the Golden Falcons' first all-CACC female in three years when she placed 12th in last year's conference championship race. 

Georgian Court University

Men: The squad enters its second season as a varsity program in 2014, and will feature a youthful roster, but one that is excited to see its growth. Last year's team consisted of several track and field athletes who had never run longer than 400 meters. However, the experience they gained from last season will help them prepare for the rigors of long season. The team has two returners in Brian Ford and Michael Pontrelli, along with a large group of newcomers who will look to make their way into the top-five.

Women: The women's team will look to improve upon its sixth-place finish at last season's conference championship by boasting a rather experience group of harriers, including Megan Kelly, Laura Amdur, Jamie Hand, Amanda Farina, Alex Kavoleff, and Melissa Marrero.

Goldey-Beacom College

Men: Goldey-Beacom will be looking to build off one of the best seasons in school history last year after placing fourth at the CACC Championship with a 16th place finish at the NCAA Regional Championship. Despite losing Stewart Reich due to graduation, the Lightning will look to juniors Aaron Easter and Logan Jones to lead the team during the 2014 campaign. Easter earned All-CACC notice as a sophomore while Jones posted four top-10 finishes last year. 

Women: With five letterwinners returning from last year, Goldey-Beacom enters the 2014 campaign with hopes of moving up the ladder in the CACC standings. Sophomore Ariel Richardson will be looking to post another successful season after a pair of top-10 finishes last year. Meanwhile, senior Ashley Zaccaria was a good addition to the Lightning roster last year and will try to build off her successful season from a year ago. 

Holy Family University

Men: The Tigers will be led in 2014 by first-year head coach Reggie James, who comes to Holy Family following a two-year stint in the same capacity at Division III Montclair State. The Tigers return three runners from last season including junior Lou Simone and sophomores Juwan Jordan and Richard Sieck.  Two newcomers to the fold will be looked at to help the squad in freshman Jonathan Bailey and sophomore transfer Matthew French.

Women: The women's team will benefit from the experience provided by senior harriers Sarah Bariglio and Mia Hicks. The Tigers also return sophomores Ces Coleman, Achaia Pierre, and Kianna Tidball. Coleman led Holy Family last season at the CACC championship with a 25th-place showing. Freshman Courtney Washington will join the team as well this fall.

Nyack College

Men: The Warriors posted a top-five finish at the CACC championship in 2013, and will feature a young squad in 2014 that will look to remain near the top of the league standings. Nyack will welcome into the mix this year freshmen Ian Mirtile and Thomas Trott, along with two transfer students, Nathaniel Dominy and Benjamin Barragan.

Women: The reigning CACC champions will look to carry over the momentum of last season into this year, as their sights are set on another title in 2014. Seven returnees from 2013 will look to lead the way for a second-straight title, while three newcomers, Ariana Nash, Stefani Ritter, and Sidney Spaschak, will look to add to the mix of talent. 

Philadelphia University

Men: The Rams return a senior-laden squad that is ready to claim its first conference title since 2009. The Rams have seven seniors on the team, including four that earned all-conference recognition in 2012. Leading the list of returnees are three-time All-CACC runner Tim Malloy and two-time all-conference runner Eric Lacy. In 2013, Malloy and Lacy ran their way onto the All-East Region team at the NCAA Division II East Region Championship. In their first season with the team, Curran Kneebone and Cody Borders were all-conference runners by finishing in the top-15 at the 2013 CACC Championship. Newcomers to the Rams include freshmen Alex Gigliotti and Alec Fixl.

Women: Philadelphia looks to return to the top of the hill after finishing second in the 2013 CACC Championship, ending the Rams' five-year reign as conference champion. The Rams return five all-conference runners, including three-time All-CACC runner Taylor Falvey. Emilie Barton and Alyssa Litty earned all-conference recognition for the second time a year ago. Jessica Thies, the 2013 CACC Rookie of the Year, and Kaitlyn Beckham were first-time all-conference runners. The lone newcomer for the Rams is Maddie Conway.

Post University

Men: The Eagles welcome back eight runners from last season, including sophomore John Ducham, who was the top men's finisher for Post in each of the Eagles seven races. Ducham also became Post's first-ever ECAC Runner of the Week last year.

Women: Post returns just one from last year's team, as Jessica Lavelle is back for her junior year. The Eagles add five including lacrosse standout Miranda Polaski.

University of the Sciences

Men: Sciences top two runners; sophomore Tim Storino and junior captain Tommy Mauro return to lead a young Devils squad in 2014 that will have no seniors.  Three juniors and one sophomore round out the returnees.  Christopher Noce was the Devils No. 3 runner last season, while Chidozie Chukwuneke and Warren Hayward return to the squad after missing all of 2013.  Sophomore Cameron Carlock rounds out the returnees.  Sciences will add some additional depth with the addition of three newcomers.

Women: The team returns seven runners from their 2013 squad that placed fourth at the CACC Championships.  Leading the way for the Devils will be defending CACC Champion and 2013 CACC women's Cross Country Runner of the Year Brianna Ligotski.  As a sophomore, Ligotski was the Devils top runner in every race, including a personal-best 19:36 en route to winning the CACC Championship race.  She also became the first Devils runner to NCAA all-Region honors with a 20th place finish at the NCAA regional race.  Sophomore Kristine Thomas looks to improve upon her freshman campaign and her 16th place finish at the conference meet.   Ligotski and Thomas will get support from senior co-captains Melissa Humble and Jen O'Laughlin as well as juniors Allison Kmetz and Grace John and sophomore Alyse Parker.  A quartet of freshman join the squad this season giving the Devils additional depth.  Leading the way amongst the newcomers will be Mily Shah and Jessica Fraone.   Shah and Fraone should compete with the upperclassmen for a spot in the Devils top five.

Wilmington University

Men: The back-to-back CACC Champions return in 2014 under 14th year head coach Keith Jones, as the Wildcats look for another shot at reaching the NCAA Division II National Championship. Jones returns CACC Runner of the Year Richie Mitten for his senior season, as he led the squad with a sixth place finish at the regionals and a 134th place finish at nationals. Jones also welcomes back seniors Matt Mossman, Tyler Muse, Brandon Parker, and Mike Wright, in additional to reigning CACC Rookie of the Year Ken Fontal. 

Women: Head coach Keith Jones looks to have his team approve upon their back-to-back fifth place finishes at the last two CACC Championships. Jones returns an experienced Jeannette Halliburton to the squad who was the only All-CACC representative last season, finishing 10th in the conference meet and 74th overall at the NCAA Division II Regional Championship. Jones also welcomes Morgan Ferrick, Rachel Jones, Tijen Ozcan, and Jordan Swain back to the team, who all have at least one season of running as a Wildcat under their belts.

The Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference is an NCAA Division II Conference composed of 14 institutions in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The member institutions are Bloomfield College, Caldwell University, Chestnut Hill College, Concordia (N.Y.) College, Dominican (N.Y.) College, Felician College, Georgian Court University, Goldey-Beacom College, Holy Family University, Nyack College, Philadelphia University, Post University of Waterbury, University of the Sciences, and Wilmington University.