DALLAS — A pair of Greater Pittston natives dominated the Middle Atlantic Conference Cross Country Championships recently.
Pittston Area graduate Bianca Bolton was crowned Misericordia University’s first Middle Atlantic Conference individual cross country champion while leading the Cougars to their second straight conference championship. Lafin native and King’s College senior Marissa Durako finished fourth overall and broke a pair of records.
The race was held at Letterkenny Fields on the campus of Misericordia.
Bolton finished the race in a time of 22:35.72 to beat the runner-up, DeSales sophomore Veronica Wheeler, by nine seconds. Wheeler, who was the 2014 MAC Rookie of the Year, finished the race in a time of 22:44.34. Bolton earned the 2015 MAC Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Year award.
“It meant a lot to me,” Bolton said. “I feel like I’ve come a long way, even from just two years ago and last year. Being able to accomplishment that with my team was incredible.”
Misericordia had six runners finish in the top-20 to earn All-MAC honors. The Cougars had three runners finish in the top-10 to earn 45 points. DeSales finished runner-up with 49 points and had four runners finish in the top-20, including second- and third-place. Messiah took third with 86 points. The Falcons had four runners finish in the top-20 as well.
Bolton, a senior, was also named the October Wendy’s Female Athlete of the Month. In October, she broke her own school record (21:47) at Rowan and was second overall at the Lehigh Paul Short Invitational while leading the Cougars to a number six ranking in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Mideast Region.
Running at home, Bolton said, gave her just a slight edge to get across in first place. Bolton was in fourth place most of the race.
“On our course you don’t want to go out too fast,” she said. “I was able to make a surge with a half mile to go.”
Bolton was also named the MAC Eastern College Athletic Conference Division 2 South Region Cross Country Runner of the Week. Misericordia’s head coach Chris Wadas was named the 2015 MAC Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.
This Saturday, Nov. 14, Bolton will be competing in the NCAA Mid-East Regional at Dickinson. A good finish there will send her to the National Championships on Nov. 21 in Winneconne, Wisconsin.
“I felt really great and confident,” she said, “a lot more than last year.”
Last year at regionals, Bolton finished third overall to lead Misericordia to a 10th place finish. She set a school record (21:56) and became the second NCAA qualifier in school history and the Cougars had their best team finish ever.
Durako broke two school records by finishing fourth overall out of 164 runners in 23:00. Her finish is the best finish in program history on the women’s side breaking the previous record of fifth that she set at last year’s championship meet. Durako also broke the school record for fastest 6K by two seconds. The previous record was 23:02 set by Durako earlier this month at the Lehigh Paul Short Invitational.
As a team the Lady Monarchs finished ninth out of the 16 teams. Durako and King’s will also be competing in the NCAA Mid-East Regional next week. Durako can become the first ever King’s runner to qualify for the National Championship race.