CHARLESTON, S.C. - While most people will be thinking of costumes and candy, the College of Charleston cross country program will have their sights set on a much bigger prize this Halloween, as they will host the CAA Championship at Laurel Hill Plantation where a men's and women's champion will be crowned.
Both the men and women have had a season to remember, and come into the weekend's action red hot. Each squad is fresh off a collective team win at the CofC Classic in Rock Hill, S.C., where the men edged out Western Carolina by four points and the women posted a dominant team score of 21 to secure victory.
On an individual level, Cara Butcher has crested in recent weeks, and will enter the CAA Championship coming off a resounding win at the CofC Classic where she finished first overall with more than a 28 second gap between her and second place. She's finished first among the Cougars four out of her five meets this season, yet shockingly enough, she may not be the favorite on her own team this weekend. That's because in the Cougars' one other race at Laurel Hill Plantation (the CofC Invitational), it was not Butcher, but sophomore teammate Tori Churchill who finished first overall with a personal best performance. To be sure, both women will push one another this Saturday.
Outside of Butcher and Churchill, junior Carlee Cassidy has been a rock of consistency for The College, finishing either second or third among her teammates in every single meet this year. Who will round out the Top 5 this weekend remains to be seen, as the quartette of Kornelia Kostka, Hannah Lopez, Elizabeth Parrish and Marissa Small-Towns have all placed within scoring position at various points throughout the year.
On the men's side, sophomore Crew Kosiorek has been the undisputed leader for the Cougars this season, finishing first among CofC runners in every single race this season. He comes off a second overall finish at the CofC Classic, and like Butcher on the women's side, appears to be peaking at the perfect time.
Beyond Kosiorek, things are somewhat less solidified in the 2 – 5 range. As of late, fellow sophomore Colton Hennessey has been the next man up in the pecking order, as he's finished second among his teammates in the last three consecutive meets. Earlier in the season, that status belonged to junior Nick Putnam. However, an array of health ailments have stymied him over the past month, most recently when a lower body injury forced him to withdraw from the CofC Classic. He'll be looking to exorcise his demons this Halloween.
Junior Josh Tierney has been a steady force in the middle of the scoring order this season, and will look to continue to do so. Senior Tyler Wood has been a consistent contributor in his own right as well, and comes directly off his strongest meet of the season in Rock Hill. Freshman Grant Gauthier is also a threat to score for the Cougars, and will look to prove himself in the first postseason action of his collegiate career.
For both the men and women, William & Mary will represent the stiffest competition, with the Tribe nationally ranked on the women's side (No. 24) and regionally ranked on the men's side (No. 13 in Southeast) according to the most recent United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll. Their men's team has claimed the championship for 15 consecutive years, while the women have also won in back-to-back-to-back years.
For fans wishing to attend, the races will be held at Laurel Hill Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. (1400 Hwy 41), with the women's race beginning at 10 a.m. and the men's race following suit at 11 a.m. Because of logistical challenges inherent at the course, any guests must arrive no later than 9:45 a.m. For fans who cannot attend, live results will be made available at this link.