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The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

Preseason poll favors Gaels as cross country kicks off

Photo courtesy of ionagaels.com
The Gaels’ women’s team has won 16 of the last 18 MAAC Championships.

The Iona men and women’s XC/Track & Field teams have big expectations heading into the 2023 season following the announcement of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll. 


In the 2023 edition of the poll, the men’s cross country program was predicted to finish in first place. They received all eleven of the necessary first place votes.  


The high billing does not come as much of a surprise considering the men’s dominance that led to their 32nd consecutive MAAC championship last season.  


As the men look forward to protecting their title, key performers, such as graduate students Joshua and Jonathan DeSouza, as well as Damien Dilcher, are set to return for the upcoming season. The trio each finished within the top three of last year’s MAAC championship, posting times of 23:46.6, 23:51.6, and 23:47.7, respectively. 


The women’s squad received three first place votes, slotting them second behind Quinnipiac University in the 2023 MAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Quinnipiac’s ranking comes after their win in the 2022 MAAC Championship, breaking a six-year title defense streak by the Gaels between 2016-2021.  


Sophomore Tayla Gunton and senior Cara Du Preez, who were both named to the MAAC All-Rookie team, are back on board for another campaign, putting the Gaels in a familiar spot as they contend for the 2023 championship. 


2023 will mark the 29th time in which Manhattan College has hosted the MAAC Cross Country Championships, despite it being held at Twin Ponds on the Farm for the first time in Montgomery, New York. 


Iona’s men’s team began the new season with a win at the 2023 Marist Opener on Sept. 2. Iona received first place honors thanks to four runners finishing within the top five spots.  


Red shirt freshman Aiden Coles led the way for the Gaels with an 18:59.6 mark in the six-kilometer run, followed by his brother Tristan Coles, sophomore Scott Fagan and junior Nick Soldevere, who each finished with times of 19:02.5 or better.  


The Iona men’s squad posted 19 points in total, placing them 24 points ahead of the event host and eventual second-place finisher, Marist. 


The Gaels had two participants in the women’s 5,000-meter race, freshman Lily Overton and junior Cosmina Spiridon. Both Overton and Spiridon placed within the top-10, tabbing respective times of 18:55.1 and 19:22.7.  


Iona’s cross country teams will next compete in the 28th annual Brother John “Paddy” Doyle/Iona University Meet of Champions on Sept. 15 at Van Cortlandt Park.  


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Robert Hughes
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