Coming off its victory at the Liberty League Championship Meet, the Rensselaer men’s cross country team has climbed into the top 10 in the country, according to the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division III Poll. RPI has moved to ninth, two spots ahead of its previous ranking. Rensselaer’s women’s team held steady at 16th after its win in the conference championship meet. John Lynch is the head coach of both programs.
The men, who are second in the Atlantic Region behind only No. 2 SUNY Geneseo, have competed in six meets this season and have yet to finish outside the top five. In addition to winning the Liberty League title, the Engineers also finished first of five at the multidivisional Siena College Meet (Sept. 1) and at the 14-school Saratoga Invitational (Oct. 1). There was a runner-up finish at the 14-school Vassar College Invitational and a third place finish at the 40-school Rowan University Invitational (Oct. 15). The Engineers were fifth of 24 schools at a meet at Williams College on Sept. 24.
Senior Ben Fazio, a two-time NCAA All-America, leads the team, along with sophomore Grant O’Connor. Fazio, a captain, was the individual winner of the eight-school Liberty League Championship Meet, while O’Connor finished second in the 128-person field. Rensselaer had seven of the first 12 finishers in capturing the team title—the first outright championship in the program’s history—with 22 points.
Other Rensselaer scorers included sophomore Sean O’Connor, senior Garrett Davis, and senior Matthew Cicciu. Davis and Cicciu, along with classmate Brian Crowley, are also captains of the team, which has 12 freshmen, eight sophomores, four juniors, and seven seniors.
The women’s team, which is ranked fourth in the region, won the league championship by placing all five scorers in the top 10 in cruising to a second straight title with 30 points, finishing comfortably ahead of second place St. Lawrence University (46).
Junior Jaime Lord, an All-America as a sophomore, led the Engineers, placing second overall. She has been the team’s top runner all season with seniors Mary West and Maddie Dery, as well as sophomore Karina Bolton, typically joining her in the front of the pack.
West, Dery, and classmate Allison Thayer are the captains of the squad, which has four top three finishes. The Engineers won the Saratoga Invitational, finished second at Siena, and were third at Vassar. They had seventh place finishes at both Williams and Rowan.
Rensselaer, which finished a school record ninth at the 2015 NCAA Championship Meet, has 12 freshmen, three sophomores, two juniors, seven seniors, and a graduate student.
Both the women and the men are idle until November 12 when they compete in the NCAA Atlantic Regional Championship at Rowan.