Preview: No. 23 Men’s Cross Country to Compete in 16th NCAA Championship

Skyhawks aim to top its 16th place finish, matching its national ranking last season

2018 NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships Homepage – Slippery Rock University

NCAA Division II National Championships Festival Information 

Taxter finished as the runner up in both the NCAA East Region and NE10 Championship

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (November 29, 2018) – The Stonehill College men's cross country team, ranked No. 1 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association East Regional Rankings and No. 23 in the National poll (USTFCCCA), will compete in its 16th-straight trip to the NCAA Division II Championships this Saturday at the Bob O'Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The men's 10-kilometer race will kick off the day at 11:00 a.m., while the women's six-kilometer race will begin at 12:15 p.m.

Tickets for the event can be purchased day of event for $10 a vehicle at Schenley Park. For those who will not be making the trip to Pennsylvania, NCAA cross country fans can watch the live streams of the Championships on Flotrack as they will be providing pay-per-view live coverage of the event.

The Skyhawks claimed its fifth East Region title in program history with a total of 52 points at Bethpage, New York at Bethpage State Park. Stonehill won with a margin of 11 points ahead of Northeast-10 Conference foe American International College. Southern Connecticut State University finished as the third team at the Championship with a total of 101 points. Senior Lucas Taxter led the way for the Purple & White with a second-place finish clocking in at 31:15.30 in the 10-kilometer race. Five other Skyhawks earned All-East Region recognition at the Championship.

To qualify for regionals, Stonehill finished second at the NE10 Championship this season, as the Owls took home their first NE10 title of the program's history with 50 points. The Skyhawks were edged by seven points for a total of 57 points. This was Stonehill's fourth second-place finish in five years and eighth total runner-up mark in program history. Taxter once again led the way for Stonehill with his second-place finish.

Taxter has totaled three NE10 All-Conference honors for cross country and two All-East Region accolades in his three years competing, as he will be appearing in his third NCAA Championship. The Readville, Massachusetts native has totaled two other top-five finishes, including a career-best third place mark at the New England Championships for his first All-New England honor. Taxter also placed 16th at the Shawn M. Nassaney Invitational and 23rd at the Bruce Kirsh Cross Country Cup.

Classmate Riley Dowd will be competing in his fourth NCAA Championship, as he has totaled three All-East Region and two NE10 All-Conference recognitions over his career. This season, Dowd saw three top-25 results, including his 10th place finish at the East Region Championship and fifth at the NE10 Championship.

Senior Alexander Demeule will be running in his third NCAA Championship. The senior has collected three NCAA All-East Region honors and three NE10 All-Conference accolades. Along with his 11th-place mark at the East Regional, Demeule saw five top-20 finishes, including a career best fourth at the Conference Championship.

McNamee will be running in his first NCAA Championship after his seventh-place finish at the NCAA East Region Championship

Another senior, Christopher Dracewill be toeing the line in his second NCAA Championship. Drace placed 48th at this year's East Region Championship, as he also earned 29th at the NE10 Championship.

Sophomores Kevin Wheelock and Jeff Pichie will be competing in their first NCAA Championship. Wheelock finished 22nd at the East Regional Championship earning his first-career spot on the All-East Region team. Wheelock also tallied three other top-25 marks this season out of six races, including a 25th-palce finish at the NE10 Championship and a season high mark of fifth place at the Division II/III Challenge.

Pichie also collected his first-career All-East Region honor, after he finished 25th with a time of 34:43.40 at the East Regional Championship. He bested his mark at the NE10 Championship this season, finishing 26th with a time of 25:52.6. He placed eighth overall at the Division II/III Challenge for his best mark of the season.

Freshman Nickolas McNamee is also one of the seven Skyhawks to make his first appearance at the NCAA Championships. He was the seventh Skyhawk across the finish line at the East Regional Championship earning his first All-East Region honor. The freshman placed 21st in the NE10 Championship earning the final spot on the NE10 All-Conference team with his time of 25:40.5.  

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market.