LINCROFT, N.J. - Graduate student Elaine Estes won the individual title to lead the Saint Joseph's women's cross country squad to a first-place team finish in a field of six teams in the SR./JR. race at the 2019 Monmouth Kick-Off Invitational, held at Thompson Park on Saturday morning. The Hawks placed three in the top six spots en route to 36 points and an average 4k time of 15:02.
Estes led from the opening gun and crossed the finish line of the 4k race in a collegiate-best time of 14:20.94, over 31 seconds faster than the runner-up from Williams, Anna Passannante, to take first in the field of 48. Paced by a 5:46.4 mile average, the time was also 16 seconds faster than her 2018 time on the course and led the graduate student to her first collegiate win on the trails.
"I knew the difference for me between last season and this season was going to be fine tuning some little things to give me an edge and put me more where I want to be in races," said Estes following the race. "One of those things was starting faster. Given that this was a shorter race, I just went out fast, and the way I got started, I was leading from about 150 meters and I just rolled with it. All races are tough when you're running them, but it's just in how you run them. I approached this one fun and fast."
"There was never a doubt," added head coach Melody O'Reilly of Estes' win. "Elaine took command of the race from the gun and led largely the whole time. Overall, it was a great way to start the season. It was a beautiful morning and the team looked strong."
In her Division I cross country debut and the first 4k of her collegiate career, senior Morgan Camerlo looked incredibly strong with a third-place finish (14:54.97 PR), followed by junior Abigail Silva (15:06.36 PR), who showed up big and PRed by over 34 seconds.
Junior Alexa Gostovich impressed significantly with a 12th-place showing (15:21.59 PR), clocking in an entire 90 seconds faster than a year ago, while senior captain Meridith Twomey finished 14th (15:26.23 PR) to round out the scoring.
In the SO./FR. race, freshman Olivia Wojtowicz led all Hawks with a sixth-place showing in a field of 43, clocking in with a 4k time of 15:38.70 in her collegiate debut, to lead the Hawks to a third-place team finish in a field of four.
Sophomore Shannon Addario finished 12th (15:54.38 PR) in her first collegiate 4k while freshman Brooke Martin (16:16.29 PR) rounded out SJU's top three. Also of note, sophomore Carlee Lasko followed just behind Martin in 19th (16:19.31 PR) to PR on last year's 4k time by over 40 seconds.
The Hawks return to action at the George Mason Invitational next Friday, September 13 at 4:30 p.m. The race will be held at the Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, Va, and select Hawks will earn the opportunity to compete on the course that will play host to the 2019 Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championship on November 2.