Baltimore County, Md. -- The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) yesterday released its latest polls and CCBC Essex is ranked as the 25th best NJCAA Division I men's program.
"The team has been working very hard," said head coach Noah Hutton. "This year's team has minimal cross country experience. The effort they have put in to compete at a high level is starting to show in their results."
The Knights are the only cross country team in the Maryland Juco Conference and NJCAA Region XX to appear in the poll.
CCBC Essex's women's team is also making strides and showing signs of improvement since summer practices.
On August 30, the Knights began the season at Dickinson College's "Light up the Night" Invitational.
Gabrielle Turner (Forest Park) beat her fastest 5k time from high school by almost 90 seconds at Dickinson. Her time was a top ten time in CCBC Essex women's cross country over the past 10 years and is within 70 seconds of the fastest time within the last ten years.
The women's team scored in their first meet as a team in over 14 months.
On the men's side at Dickinson, Liam Mischke (Loch Raven) led the Knights in a close and tight race with Carroll Community College and Hagerstown Community College.
Sophomore Bradley Allen (Dundalk) came into the cross country season in much better shape than last season and it showed in his second place finish on the team. His leadership is helping the many new runners to the sport of cross country, including James Rudolph (Dundalk) a promising freshman student-athlete who finished third on the team and has a bright future at CCBC Essex.
"There are many tight packs forming on the men's team," Hutton said after the race. "This will help the team improve and succeed over the next couple of months leading up to the conference and Region XX championships."
At the Green Terror Challenge (McDaniel College) on September 6, both squads had strong showings, with many finishing in the top 12.
The men finished second as a team in the 3k.
On September 21 at the Eastern Shore XC Invitational (UMES), the men came in 5th place out of six teams and finished with seven runners in front of the third and fourth teams and number five runner. The Knights also beat the only two-year college present.
Cross Country next races on Saturday, as half the men and the women travel to Penn State Harrisburg for the Bud Smitley Invitational. The other half of the men's squad will head to Salisbury University for the Don Cathcart Invitational.
*Follow Cross Country on Twitter @CCBCEssex_XC.