Last year, then-sophomore cross country runner Christina Melian fell just short in the America East Championships, finishing in second place at the meet. This year, the junior left no doubt who the best in the field was, winning the women’s 5K in the event hosted by Stony Brook. Melian ran a time of 17:53.24 to become the fourth Seawolf to win the individual title in the last six seasons.
“It was just amazing,” Melian said. “It was even more amazing just winning at home with everyone out there supporting us.”
The next closest finisher was more than 16 seconds behind Melian. Even though she took control of the race near the halfway point, the Staten Island native kept her pace the whole way through, pulling away with the victory.
“Honestly I just kept pushing forward,” Melian said. “Seeing everybody cheering for us really motivated me to keep going.”
She was not the only successful runner on the day, as both the men’s and women’s teams finished near the top of the conference standings. The women finished in third, as junior Elizabeth Caldwell, who head coach Andy Ronan said is the team’s second-quickest runner, got her shoe kicked off early on in the race.
The men, however, exceeded their coach’s expectations, coming in second place at the meet.
“Very happy with the guys,” Ronan said. “We went in ranked about fourth or fifth and came out second, so that was a really good performance from them.”
Leading the charge was sixth-placed senior Mitchell Kun, who ran the men’s eight-kilometer long course in 25:21.66.
Bryce Hedman, who won Rookie of the Meet with the fastest time by a first-year-runner, cruised through the course in 25:39.11.
“I’m very encouraged by the men,” Ronan said. “Our goal always in the regional meet is to be top ten. Very encouraged after today.”
That regional meet is the NCAA Northeast Regionals in Boston on Nov. 13. There, the Seawolves will look to qualify for nationals in Kentucky on Nov. 21.
With the way Melian is running, Ronan would not be surprised if she takes one of the top-four spots in a couple weeks to book her ticket to the NCAA Championships.
“I think she’s continuing on the fine performances that she’s been doing all season,” Ronan said. “It falls in line with what she’s been doing all season.”