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The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

Dilcher and Gunton shine, Keep Iona’s Dynasties Alive

Photo courtesy of IonaGaels.com
Iona men’s team flew to the finish line with a near-perfect score of 19.

The Iona University men and women’s cross-country teams participated in the 2023 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships at Twin Ponds on the FARM in Montgomery, N.Y., on Oct. 28.  

The event was held at Twin Ponds on the FARM for the first time ever and hosted by Manhattan College for the 29th time.  

Starting with the men’s squad, they returned to action following a two-week lull in their schedule. Prior to the MAAC Championships, their last races were the IC4A Championship in Riverdale, N.Y., and the Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational, both of which were held on Oct. 13. While no team score was tabulated at the IC4A, the Gaels finished 21st out of 36 teams in Madison, W.I. 

Iona stepped up on the biggest stage with graduate student Damien Dilcher pacing the Maroon and Gold in the 8,000-meter race with a 24:25.0 time, securing a first-place spot. Fellow graduate Lachlan Wellington followed in third at 24:36.4, succeeded by Nick Soldevere (24:41.9), Matt Rankin (24:45.9), and Jonathan DeSouza (24:49.8), consecutively.  

Four other Gaels, junior Tadhg Donnelly, graduate Joshua DeSouza, and sophomores Aiden Coles and Scott Fagan earned top-15 finishes, as well as All-MAAC honors. 

Dilcher’s fantastic afternoon was rewarded with the MAAC Most Outstanding Performer honors, in addition to becoming the Gaels’ 23rd straight individual champion since 2002.  

Coles’ result won him the MAAC Rookie of the Year.  

Iona’s Director of XC/Track & Field, Joe Pienta, was named the conference’s Men’s Cross-Country Coach of the Year for the third consecutive season.  

The women’s cross-country team completed their MAAC Championships on the same day, finishing second place as a team behind Quinnipiac University. 

Sophomore Tayla Gunton, who landed within the top-20 at the ECAC Championships on Oct. 13, earned the MAAC individual champion title with a blazing 20:54.6 finish. Like Dilcher, Gunton went on to win the MAAC Outstanding Performer award, becoming the 14th person to do so in the program’s history.  

Holly Smith, Madison Klein, and Cara Du Preez all secured top-15 spots, winning All-MAAC honors. Freshmen Claragh Keane and Lily Overton placed within the top five first-time performers, thus winning MAAC All-Rookie honors.  

While the women’s team did not win the event, their program has won 16 of the last 19 MAAC Championships. The men’s run of 33 consecutive conference titles turns out to be the longest such winning streak in any sport in the NCAA.  

Each of Iona’s cross-country teams will prepare for the upcoming NCAA Northeast Regionals and Championships, held on Nov. 10 and 18, respectively. 


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Robert Hughes
Robert Hughes, Sports Editor

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