LAKE PLACID - Paul Smith's College will host the United States Collegiate Athletic Association's (USCAA) Cross Country Nationals on Friday for the second year in a row at Mount Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid.
This year's small college National Championship will feature more than 350 runners from 30 college and university campuses from across the nation.
Stephanie Runyon of Indiana's Saint Mary of the Woods College is returning as the three-time women's cross country champion, and is looking to become the first-ever USCAA four-time champion. Runyon's 2011 time of 25:16 from will be difficult to beat, given the snow which is likely to be on the course at the biathlon area at the Mount Van Hoevenburg Sports Complex.
As a team, Saint Mary of the Woods won national titles in 2009 and 2010, and finished third last year.
Southern Virginia University returns as the women's team champion and features All Americans Tory Faulkner and Leah Huber, along with the addition of freshman Jacey Moore who has led the team twice this season.
SUNY-ESF's women finished second in 2011, and are looking to challenge SVU for the national title. As a relatively new collegiate program, ESF has succeeded with solid recruitment the past three years, and is again expected to finish among the top three on Friday.
On the men's side, SUNY-ESF returns as the team champions, and it appears that they will be challenged by Dine College (Ariz.). Dine relies on some of the finest runners from the Navajo region in the Southwest.
There will be several colleges/universities that are new to the USCAA, including West Virginia Tech, the University of Dallas, Albany Pharmacy, Daemen College, Cleary University (Mich.) and Silver Lake College (Wis.).
Both Paul Smith's College's mens and women's teams finished fourth last year with solid All-American performances from Kyle Dash (Java Village) and Ana Hull (Madrid). Dash and Hull have been hampered by injuries much of the season, but will return for Friday's nationals.
The Bobcats men's team has been led by freshman Corey Roth (Rochester), who is aiming for a podium finish to earn All-American status. Roth has been consistently among the best in the country all season long, and is ready to roll.
Eric Kowalik (Akron), Zach Davidson (Charlottesville, Va.), Jack Mulvihill (New Hartford), Josh Buchanen (Central Square) Louis Ferrone (East Syracuse) and Alex Kelchner (Nazareth, Pa.) all figure to be among the Paul Smith's College runners battling for team points.
On the women's side, sophomore captain Jessie Husmann (Rochester, Minn.) has been leading Paul Smith's for much of the season, but has been joined over the past four weeks with freshman Corrie Desilets (North Attleboro, Mass.), who has battled back from early season injuries to pace the team during the championship phase of the season.
Emelie Morton (Alton, N.H.), Alex Hanlon (Whitesboro) and Lea Anthony (New Bedford, Mass.) have been steady all season long, and with the addition of Hull to the roster for nationals, the women's team is again hoping for a top five performance at nationals on Friday.
The women's 6K event will begin at 11 a.m. Friday, followed by the men's 8K at noon. Both courses are a figure eight, done twice, and are spectator friendly. The start and finish for both courses are in the biathlon staging area, utilizing the hilly trail system on both the biathlon and Nordic ski sides of the Mount Van Hoevenburg trails.
An awards ceremony will be held at High Peaks Resort at 1:30 p.m., with the top three teams and first- and second-team All-Americans being awarded.