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Messiah Collects Two Second Place Finishes In MAC Championships
Over 350 participants braved the cold and snow in the MAC Cross Country Championships on Saturday at Messiah.

Grantham PA - Perhaps the only thing more impressive than the snowfall on Saturday was the Elizabethtown College cross country peformance. The Blue Jays' men's and women's teams both won MAC Cross Country Championships in the annual competition. The teams did so in dominating fashion, as the men and women scored only 19 and 22 points, respectively.

For the men of Elizabethtown, it was their third straight MAC Championship. For the women, it was their fourth.

As if that isn't impressive enough, the Blue Jays captured both Most Valuable Runner awards: sophomore Traci Tempone (23:58.40) for the women, and senior Eric Reichert (27:30.60) for the men. Elizabethtown head coach Brian Falk was named Coach of the Year for both the men and the women.

Messiah College, host for the 2011 Championships, placed second as a team in both the women's and men's races. Senior Tyler Newhook took fourth place (27:50.30) in the men's race, closely followed by senior Zach Hogland (fifth place, 27:53.00). Senior Abby Reed took ninth place in the women's race (25:16.70), while classmate Mary Higgins finished eleventh (25:33.00).

"It was an honor for us to host the event," said Messiah head coach Dale Fogelsanger. "The snow created a number of challenges, but I think we were prepared and everything went as well as it could."

The snow was certainly a factor. Accumulation started around 10:00 a.m., an hour before the women's race was to start. With a few inches on the ground, the women started on time as fans stood under umbrellas to stay protected from the steady downfall.

With course flags lining the trail, the runners in both races overcame the slick footing and low visibility. A few downed tree limbs provided brief obstacles for some of the participants, but no runners were seriously impeded.

"I'm very proud of all the runners (in today's event)," said Messiah Athletic Director Jack Cole. "It's not easy to run in these conditions, but the student-athletes showed great determination and enthusiasm for their sport."

Freshman Dana Stockdale of Lebanon Valley College, and freshman Chris Garrity of Widener University took home Rookie of the Year honors. Both runners were the first "rookies" to cross the line of competitors in the event for the first time. Stockdale finished fourteenth overall (25:51.4), with Garrity finishing ninth (28:17.50).

Rounding out the top five team finishers for the women were Misericordia University (144 points), DeSales University (120), Lebanon Valley College (113), and Messiah College and Elizabethtown College.

For the men, Misericordia finished fifth as well (117), with Widener University (97) and DeSales (95) finishing behind Messiah and Elizabethtown.