NEW ROCHELLE, NY --The Iona College men's and women's cross country teams were both selected to finish a top the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference leaderboard for the 2015 campaign. The 24-time defending champion men and 10-time defending champion women look to extend the NCAA's longest conference title streaks this upcoming season.
In 2014, the Iona men earned its 24th consecutive MAAC title. For the eighth time during the stretch and for the second straight season, the program earned a perfect score of 15. Jake Byrne - who completed his final year of cross country eligibility in 2014 - paced the Gaels with the individual title. The Gaels finished third overall at Northeast Regionals with Byrne also claiming the individual regional crown. The season was completed with an eighth place team performance at the NCAA Championship in Terre Haute, IN.
Byrne, Andrew Kowalsky, Nick Lachman and Quinn Raseman are the only four not returning among the 13 Gaels finishing in the Top 25 of the MAAC Championship in 2014. Senior Otis Ubriaco, sophomore Gilbert Kirui, junior Kieran Clements, sophomore Brandon Allen, senior Mike O'Dowd, and sophomores Chartt Miller and Andrew Tario finished second through eighth in the 2014 conference meet.
The men's team was a unanimous selection for the top spot, finishing ahead of Canisius, Quinnipiac, Marist and Rider to round out the top five.
The Maroon & Gold women won the MAAC Championship for the 10th consecutive season. Senior Kate Avery won her first of three consecutive championship season events to earn the individual title. She also led the Gaels to their first-ever Northeast Regional Championship and its first-ever Top 10 performance in the NCAA Championship, finishing ninth. Avery was Iona's first female student-athlete to win an individual national championship, crossing first in Terre Haute last November.
After Avery, the Gaels will have to replace four of its top seven finishers in the MAAC Championship in track All-American Rosie Clarke, Tara Jameson, Marlene Delices and Regina Neumeyer. Senior Melissa Hawtin and sophomores Jessica Scheriff and Natalie Holder are Top 25 MAAC finishers returning for the 2015 season.
Like the men, the Iona women were selected unanimously in the No. 1 slot. Quinnipiac, Marist, Monmouth and Rider round out the top five.
The Gaels open the 2015 campaign on Sep. 5 at the Marist Inviational at Vassar Farm in Poughkeepsie, NY. The 2015 MAAC Championship will be hosted by Rider at Rosedale Park in Pennington, NJ on Oct. 31.