W&M Men Aim for Fifth-Straight Conference Title

WILLIAMSBURG, VA - Four-time defending CAA Champion William and Mary men's cross country will seek its fifth-consecutive conference crown this Saturday as it contests the CAA Cross Country Championship, hosted by James Madison in New Market, VA. The 8,000m men's race is slated to begin at 11:00 a.m.

The Tribe will again present a formidable force at the Championship, returning five all-conference harries from last season, along with several underclassmen ready to step up and snare All-CAA honors. Junior Matt Keally (Virginia Beach, VA) is the team's top returning finisher from last year's championship as the two-time All-Southeast performer claimed third place. Senior Adam Otstot (Richmond, VA) raced to fifth just a few ticks behind while sophomore David Murphy (Warwick, RI) captured seventh at last season's Championship, earning CAA Rookie of the Year honors in the process. Two-time All-Southeast performer Charlie Hurt (Charlottesville, VA) placed ninth and senior Pat Comstock (Portsmouth, VA) finished 10th to round out the Green and Gold's returning All-CAA runners from 2003. Junior Jason Schoener (Grand Blanc, MI) raced to fourth last year, but will be held out of this year's championship.

W&M also has several additional runners primed to challenge for the individual title. All-Southeast senior Jeff Hedley (Virginia Beach, VA), who was held out 2003's Championship, has had a strong season to date, leading the Tribe at the Lou Onesty Invitational (fourth) and at the Great American Festival (15th), earning CAA Runner of the Week honors once. Freshman, who raced to eighth at the Lou Onesty Invitational, could also step up and be a force for the Tribe in the race.

Along with Schoener, W&M will hold out two of its top runners this season, sophomores Keith Bechtol (Alexandria, VA) and Adam Tenerowicz (Blackstone, MA). Bechtol, twice CAA Runner of the Week, led the squad at its most recent meet (finishing 26th in the Blue Race at Pre-Nationals) while Tenerowicz, CAA Runner of the Week once, impressed with his 10th place performance at the elite Paul Short Invitational.

The Green and Gold earned its 11th CAA Cross Country Championship in 2003 after dominating the field by scoring 20 points, beating out James Madison (54) and Delaware (76). The title marked the fourth-straight for the College, and should the Tribe win this Saturday, it will mark the second time W&M has won five consecutive crowns as the squad accomplished the feat from 1992 through 1997. The College also won the CAA Championship in 1991 and 1992. W&M has also won the last three individual titles with All-American Sean Graham hoisting the crown in 2001 and three-time All-American Ed Moran winning the past two championships.

A CAA title would be another step towards the Tribe's eighth-straight qualification to the NCAA Championship, and the team has enjoyed great success so far this year. Highlighting the season was W&M's victory at Virginia's Lou Onesty Invitational, where the Green and Gold placed five runners in the top-15 to outpace Ohio State, Virginia and Virginia Tech on a wet day in Charlottesville. Also impressive was the team's third place in the Great America Race of Champions, placing two runners in the top-20 and four in the top-30 of the elite field. With third place, the Tribe beat out two key Southeast Regional rivals (Duke and Virginia) at the meet, and finished only 25 points shy of then-No. 8 N. C. State which took second. The team also placed a solid eighth of 36 teams at the elite Paul Short Invitational and most recently took 18th in the Blue Race at Pre-Nationals. In the College's only other action on the season, at W&M's own Colonial Invitational which kicked off the 2004 campaign, the Tribe placed all six of its runners in the top-20 in the meet that did not feature team scoring. The Tribe has been ranked as high as No. 22 in the NCAA Mondo National poll this season.