Roadrunners Win NJCAA National Championships
2012 NJCAA Division III National Champions
|The Women's Team before
the National Championship Race in Delhi, NY
November 10, 2012
The Gloucester County College Cross Country teams had a
very exciting weekend at the NJCAA Division III National
Championships hosted by SUNY Delhi in Delhi, NY.
The teams entered the national championships
after sweeping the Northeast District Championships and
were ranked #1 and #2 in the nation.
The goal all season was to be the top cross
country program in the nation, and the teams worked hard
to achieve that goal.
Throughout the season both teams logged 1000’s of
miles and conquered numerous hills in preparation for
the challenging course at Delhi.
The teams also worked on various race techniques
and mental strategies to give them all the confidence
needed to achieve their goals.
When race day finally arrived, conditions at the
championships started out cold and damp,
but as the women lined up for the first race of
the day, the sun came out and the weather was just about
perfect for cross country.
The women’s 5k championship race was first up on the
Roadrunners had an amazingly loud prerace cheer oozing
with confidence as the rest of the teams eyed them up as
a target due to their national #1 ranking.
“When the gun went off, it was very nerve
wracking knowing that due to the course layout we would
not get a chance to see the ladies until the race was
almost halfway done.
When the lead pack finally emerged, it was an
amazing sight with 3 GCC yellow jerseys cresting a hill
and leading the race!” recalled Head Coach Ryan Hughes.
The lead pack at the 1.5 mile mark included Rejeena
Whittington, Nieemah Powers and Catherine Dougherty
Closely behind in the second pack chasing the
leaders were Lyndsey Fraser and Aimee Abbott.
Rounding out the Roadrunner flock were Emily
Vendetta and Isabelle Clermeus holding the group of GCC
runners together as the most tightly packed team in the
These groups held together for the entire race
and so did GCC’s dominance with the fastest group of
seven runners in the nation.
The finish was extremely exciting for the
The team was lead all season by the only
sophomore on the team, Rejeena Whittington.
Nationals was no different, she put herself into
an excellent striking position and carried two of her
teammates with her.
“Rejeena exemplifies everything about an athlete
that a coach hopes to work with.
She has unmatched dedication, desire and devotion
to her teammates.”
Rejeena had a fantastic kick to the finish to
secure an individual 3rd place finish and
earn All-American honors.
This was her second time earning All-American for
Rejeena, as she also received it for the 10,000m in
track last spring.
Working hand and hand the entire race were Nieemah
Powers and Catherine Dougherty finishing in 6th
and 7th respectively and also earning
“Nieemah is physically the strongest runner on
the team, despite being the shortest member.
This season she has grown into an extraordinary
runner, improving by leaps and bounds as she became
confident in her abilities,”
said Hughes. “Catherine joined the team
late in the season, and shocked us all right from the
start with her talent.
She has amazing speed and a fierce competitive
The next pack of Roadrunners battled back and forth
throughout the race and worked together to gobble up the
With a late surge in her most impressive race of
the season, Aimee Abbott placed 23rd followed
by Lyndsey Fraser in 27th to round out
scoring for GCC.
“Aimee was another late addition to the team and
she infused us all with tons of energy and positive
thoughts with her never ending exuberance,”
commented Hughes. “Lyndsey is the hardest
working member of the team.
She ran more miles than any other member of the
team over the summer and was always pushing herself and
the team to go further and further in practice.”
The final members of the Roadrunner flock were Emily
Vendetta and Isabelle Clermeus placing 33rd
and 43rd respectively.
Their excellent finishes put GCC’s top 7 runners
ahead of all but one other teams top 5 runners.
“Emily has done great things this season while
juggling more responsibilities than most of the team.
She spends hours after practice with her other
passion, dance, and she has to work out solo often due
to babysitting responsibilities.”
“Isabelle joined the team with some reluctance
since she had never run cross country before.
She showed that with hard work and dedication,
anything can be possible, as she went from distance
hating sprinter to national champion cross country team
As the finish of the race unfolded, with GCC’s
distinctive yellow jerseys dominating the early runners
crossing the finish line, it became very apparent that
the team title was heading to GCC.
The Roadrunners were elated as official word came
of their victory by 22 pts over 2nd place
Mohawk Valley CC.
This marks the 2nd time that the GCC
women have won a national cross country title.
Both victories were under the direction of Coach
Ryan Hughes, with the last one being in 2006.
An interesting side note to that story is that
one of the members of the 2006 national championship
team, Angela Dunn, is serving as a first year assistant
coach for GCC.
“Her experience and talents have helped the team
in too many ways to count this season.
The women on the team formed a special bond with
Angela and were able to honor her contributions with
another national title,”
said Hughes. Assistant Coach Angela Dunn says,
“I’m proud of the team. They worked hard all season and
it definitely paid off!”
To add to the team trophy hardware, the GCC Cross
Country program was awarded the ‘Pepsi Challenge Cup’
for being the best overall cross country program
in NJCAA Division III.
Also GCC Head Coach Ryan Hughes was named NJCAA
National Women’s Coach of the Year.
This is the 3rd time he has earned the
award, he was also awarded the honor in 2006 for the
women and in 2010 for the men.
Full results from NJCAA.org
GCC Women's Cross Country Wins National Title - from
GCC National Champions - from NJCAA.org