CANTON, N.Y. — Senior John Johnston steadily pulled away from the field at a soggy and muddy Ronald C. Hoffmann Cross Country Course on Saturday morning, winning the individual championship by five seconds and leading the Saints to their third consecutive New York State Collegiate Track Conference Cross Country title.
Johnston, second a year ago, won the individual title with a time of 25:46 and the Saints put five runners in the top 15 to take the team championship.
SLU, ranked first in the region and tenth nationally, finished with 31 points with Rochester second with 53, Rensselaer third with 107 and RIT fourth with 120 in a 10-team field.
“We approached today with a few simple goals in mind as well as a different race strategy. I thought our race plan could be risky with the team title on the line and the fact that we knew Rochester would be gunning for us. At the start of the day I felt that any one of our top four runners could deliver the individual title, but I am thrilled that Johnston prevailed with Seth, Kip and Rakoc in close range. Scotty bounced back well from an off race at pre-regionals and gave us a needed fifth man to clinch the team championship,” Saint coach John Newman said.
The Saints placed four in the top seven with senior Seth Jackson finishing third in 25:53, senior Steve Kiplagat fifth in 25:57 and junior Sam Rakoc seventh in 26:01. Freshman Scott Smolensky was 15th in 26:48 to complete the Saint scoring while sophomore Brendan Courneene was 24th in 27:10 and senior Alex Calderwood was 29th in 27:18 to round out SLU’s top seven.
Other Saint finishers included freshman Aaron Tompkins, who was 35th, senior Tim Liponis in 37th, sophomore Zach Nelson in 46th, freshman Trevor Bibb in 56th and senior Sean Callahan in 57th.