All collegiate athletic teams have the goals of winning a conference championship and, eventually, an NCAA championship high on their lists. These achievements validate the long hours, tough practices, and memorable games that go into accomplishing them. However, the championship is only given to one team each year, forcing the short comers to go back to the drawing board and do better next season.

The Stony Brook University Women’s Cross Country has not experienced that bitter feeling since 2006. The team won its third consecutive America East Conference title on Saturday in Vermont, standing head and shoulders above the competition and cementing its name in the school’s athletic history.

‘I’m certainly pleased for our women’s team to win its third straight championship,’ said Coach Andy Ronan.

Juniors Holly Van Dalen and Lucy Van Dalen (Wanganui, NZ) set the tone for the team, finishing second and third respectively. With Holly completing in 18:05.80 and Lucy in 18:20.80, the twin sisters both finished in the top five for the second straight year.

Of the top 20 runners to finish the 5-kilometer race, seven were from Stony Brook. Other Seawolves chipped in as well, finishing in the top-10 and helping the university secure its third straight title. Senior Laura Huet (Carrickmines, IE) came in fourth, with a time of 18:33.80, and senior Lisa Voltaire (Stockholm, SE) finished seventh in 18:48.70.

Some of the perks of winning three straight championships are the rewards that the feat comes with. The Seawolves coaching staff, under the leadership of Ronan, was once again named America East women’s staff of the year, the fifth consecutive year that it has received the honor. Also, four Seawolves find themselves on the All-Conference team, as the Van Dalen sisters, Huet, and Voltaire get the well-deserved recognition.

After getting the conference title under its belt, the team gets back on the course on Nov. 14th, battling against stiff competition in the 2009 NCAA Regional Championships, taking place at Franklin Park in Boston, Massachusetts.