Pat Higgins | Sports Editor
The Duquesne men’s and women’s cross country teams ran to high honors in the Atlantic 10 Championship at Schenley Park on Saturday afternoon.
The women’s team captured its second straight Atlantic 10 Championship. Sophomore Valerie Palermo was the first Duke to cross the finish line. She finished the 5k race third overall in 17:46. Senior Danica Snyder following behind Palermo, finishing in eighth place in 18:02. Freshman Jenny Delsignore and senior Elise Farris finished 10th and 14th, respectively. Palermo, Snyder, Deslignore and Farris were all named to the All-Conference team, and head coach Caitlin Cotter was named A-10 Coach of the Year.
Cotter said the women made it their goal from the time they won last year’s conference championship in Richmond to repeat in 2014.
“They wanted to repeat. They definitely stayed disciplined,” Cotter said. “They made all the sacrifices that needed to be made on and off the course. They didn’t get complacent. They put in the work. To repeat as champions, they put themselves in a really good position to win. For the program, they’re setting the bar high with their ability to pick each other up and work together as a team. I think it’s very positive.”
Cotter said Saturday’s result is simply a testament to how hard the team has worked all season, from the top to the bottom.
With three racers finishing in the top 10 and five in the top 25, the Dukes crushed the field and finished with 58 total points from five runners. Second place La Salle scored 111 points.
Valerie Palermo said she didn’t really know what to expect having not raced against the A-10 much this year.
“We all knew that basically anyone could finish first for the team. I was just happy that I could improve my place in the conference compared to last year cause I didn’t really know what to expect going into,” she said. “[Winning] was just amazing this year. We knew how it felt last year to win it, and now on our home court, we had all our family and friends there. I’ve never felt so supported in this sport before it was awesome.”
The men’s team finished second overall in the 8k on Saturday morning.
Junior Aaron Wilkinson led the way on the men’s side, finishing fifth overall in the men’s 8k run in 24:54. He finished just over 20 seconds off senior Rad Gunzenhauser of St. Joseph’s, who won the race.
Freshman Rico Galassi and senior Evan Gomez finished seconds after Wilkinson. Galassi took seventh, finishing just a tenth of a second behind Wilkinson, while Gomez finished in ninth, a half second behind Galassi.
All three runners were named to the All-Conference Team. In addition to All-Conference honors, Galassi was named the Atlantic 10’s Most Outstanding Rookie Performer as the first freshman to finish the race.
The Dukes’ top five runners all finished in the top 25 of 126 competitors. With that, the Red & Blue tallied 64 total points, second only to George Mason, which finished with 50. Three racers from GMU finished second, third and fourth overall.