Saunders, a junior, was selected as the 2004 CAA women's cross country Athlete of the Year and Rinker was named CAA Coach of the Year in voting by the league's cross country coaches.
Saunders captured the individual title at the CAA Cross Country Championship, winning the 6,000-meter race by a commanding 24 seconds in a time of 21:00. The three-time All-CAA selection went on to post a fourth-place finish (20:29) at the NCAA Southeast Regional meet to earn All-Region honors. The effort also earned her a berth in the NCAA Cross Country Championship, where she placed 58th (21:29) in a field of 250 runners. Saunders was the only CAA runner to compete at the NCAA Women's Championship, and her effort was the third-best national finish in JMU history.
Rinker guided James Madison to a second-place effort at the CAA Cross Country Championship, finishing just one point behind champion William & Mary in the closest competition in the league's 21-year history. The Dukes went on to post a solid seventh-place finish at the NCAA Southeast Regionals and were also seventh at the ECAC Championships. It is the fifth time in the past six years that Rinker has been named CAA Coach of the Year.
Also earning top honors from the conference were Delaware freshman Colleen O'Brien (Lebanon, N.J./North Hunterdon) as the CAA women's cross country Rookie of the Year. She was the top-finishing freshman at the CAA Cross Country Championship, placing third with a time of 21:27. Her performance was the first top-five finish for a Delaware runner in four years of competing for the CAA title. O'Brien placed 34th (22:21) at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional meet, and was seventh (18:02) at the ECAC 5K Championship Race. O'Brien, who didn't run cross country in high school, also had a fourth-place effort at the Delaware Invitational and was 10th at the Great American Race.
The conference also recognized its 2004 All-CAA women's cross country team, which is made up of the top 12 finishers from the CAA Championship.
2004 ALL-CAA WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY TEAM
Name, School, Cl., Hometown/High School
Shannon Saunders, James Madison, Jr., Forest, Va./Jefferson Forest
Jackie Kosakowski, William & Mary, Sr., Sauquoit, N.Y./Sauquoit Valley
Colleen O'Brien, Delaware, Fr., Lebanon, N.J./, North Hunterdon
Nelly Anderson, James Madison, Jr., Charlotte, N.C./Cordillera Academy,
Julia Cathcart, William & Mary, So., Starkville, Miss./Starkville
Meghan Bishop, William & Mary, So., Blue Bell, Pa./Gwynedd-Mercy Academy
Michelle Beardmore, James Madison, Fr., Front Royal, Va./Warren County
Elizeba Boit, Virginia Commonwealth, Fr., Eldoret, Kenya/Dry Girl's
Megan Lerch, Towson, Jr., Mullica Hills, N.J./Kingsway
Tiffany Cross, James Madison, Jr., Rockville, Va./Atlee
Kristyn Shiring, William & Mary, Jr., Stafford, Va./North Stafford
Karen Pulliam, William & Mary, Jr., North Potomac, Md./Quince Orchard
2004 CAA Athlete of the Year: Shannon Saunders, James Madison
2004 CAA Rookie of the Year: Colleen O'Brien, Delaware
2004 CAA Coach of the Year: Dave Rinker, James Madison