It was a beautiful morning on South Campus Saturday, Oct. 28 as the Elon University cross country program hosted the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) men’s and women’s cross country championships.

Both the men’s and women’s team faced rival CAA conference teams en route to a third place finish in both the women’s 6K race, and the men’s 8K race. 

Coach Kevin Jermyn was pleased with the overall performance on the home course. 

“This is the best we’ve raced all season,” Jermyn said. “It was a fun day. It was great to be able to host this meet on a home course. I thought the teams ran really, really tough, so overall it was one of our best races of the season. I think hosting definitely paid off and we’re excited for how the team did.”

For the Phoenix, the top finisher on the women’s team was senior Brigid Brennan, who finished eighth with a time of 21:44.68. The team finished with 80 points, just seven points behind runner-up College of William & Mary. James Madison University was able to capture the women’s title after placing 47 points higher than the Tribe.

On the men’s side, all eyes were on Elon junior Nick Ciolkowski, who was trying to win his third CAA individual title in as many tries. Ciolkowski placed fourth in the race, but was still happy with the result after recovering from a recent injury. Jermyn believes Ciolkowski’s speedy recovery from his tendinitis was a pleasant surprise for the team.

“I know he ran his tail off,” Jermyn said. “It was a boost for the team that Nick was going to run and lead them up front.” 

“You can’t win them all,” Ciolkowski said. “I’m pretty humbled because I was hoping for a win at home three times in a row; but, you know, at the same time I’m also pretty happy with it because I just came off an injury pretty recently. It’s only been in the last two weeks where I’ve been getting over that. I felt like I pushed hard and went to my limits and that’s all you can really ask for in a race.”

William & Mary’s men’s team captured its 15th consecutive title Saturday morning, beating Northeastern University by a margin of 36 points. Elon finished a distant third, scoring 93 points with Ciolkowski being Elon’s top finisher. 

“They had some added pressure and expectations on themselves so I didn’t know which way it would go coming into the weekend,” Jermyn said. “We ended up doing our best racing today - more training to keep it going for the next two weeks. This isn’t the end, but it was definitely a major step in the direction of where we want to go.”

Looking ahead, the cross country teams are looking to continue their season strong with the upcoming regional championship Nov. 10 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“We want to go out there and have some kids go after all region honors,” Jermyn said. “[Ciolkowski] hasn’t done that yet, so if he can go after all-region, that will be fantastic.”

“That race is a 10K and the longer the race, the better I tend to do,” Ciolkowski said. “I’m excited for that one. Just shoot for national qualifying … still haven’t given up on that goal. Sometimes you have ups and sometimes you have downs. Even though this is a little bit of a dip, I’m still pretty happy with how it went.”

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