Bethlehem, Pa. -- There may never be a tougher Patriot League Cross Country Championship.
The 165 men and women who competed in Saturday's Patriot League Cross Country Championships couldn't believe the conditions they had to battle through, as the Navy Midshipmen swept the men's and women's titles in several inches of snow at Lehigh University's Goodman Course.
The Navy men pushed past American with five All-Patriot League performances to score 38 points. American was second with 49 and Lehigh was third with 78. Army (98), Bucknell (108), Colgate (167), Lafayette (211) and Holy Cross (215) followed.
The women's race was much closer as Navy edged Bucknell by just three points. The Mids scored 53 points thanks to three All-League performances. Bucknell was second with 56, and Colgate was third with 98. Army (111), Lehigh (128), American (139), Lafayette (173) and Holy Cross (178) rounded out the race.
The snow began to fall in the Lehigh Valley two hours before the men's 8K, where Colgate's Chris Johnson shocked the field by taking first place, finishing in 24:53.9, almost 20 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher American's Josh Olsen (25:12.8). Navy's James Pearson was third (25:14.2) and Lehigh's Evan Kosgei, a runner-up in the last two Patriot League Championships, was fourth (25:15.5). A native of Moiben, Kenya, Kosgei said after the race that he had never run in snow before.
Johnson and Kosgei were side-by-side heading into the final leg of the race, but Johnson said he used the final hill to build the lead he needed to easily win the race.
The snow was even worse when Navy's Jess Palacio ousted the two-time defending champion from Colgate, Elise DeRoo, in the women's 6K race.
Palacio powered away from the second- and third-place finishers in several inches of snow during the final stretch toward the finish line, completing the race in 21:56.1.
Lehigh's Katherine Pierce also picked up speed during the final straight-away to pass DeRoo for second place (22:05.4). DeRoo finished third (22:08.5).
Navy's Al Cantello was named the Patriot League Men's Coach of the Year and Navy's Karen Boyle was named the Patriot League Women's Coach of the Year. Bucknell freshman John Dugan won the Patriot League Men's Rookie of the Year award, finishing 13th in a time of 25:36.1, earning Second-Team All-Patriot League honors. Navy freshman Annie-Norah Beveridge also landed on the second team with her 10th-place finish in the women's race. She was named the Patriot League Women's Rookie of the Year.
All four were given their awards in a dimly lit Rauch Field House at Lehigh University, as emergency lights were the only lights left after the heavy snow knocked out the power prior to the awards ceremony.
The All-League teams also were honored during the ceremony. The Navy men led the way with five runners honored; two on the first team -- James Pearson and Ken Bunnell (fifth place) -- and three on the second team -- Cody Rome (eighth), John Satterwhite (10th) and Robbie Patterson (12th). American's Josh Olsen, Ryan Williams (sixth) and Mark Allen (seventh) were all named to the first team and John Pope (ninth) was on the second team. Johnson and Kosgei also earned first team honors.
Bucknell's David Brown place 11th to join his teammate, Dugan, on the second team. Army's Dan Jester placed 14th to round out the second team.
Navy and Bucknell tied for three All-League performances on the women's side. Bucknell's Caroline Tolli (fifth) and Stephanie Fulmer (seventh) each landed on the first team, while Emily Liggett was 11th and named to the second team. Palacio was on the first team for Navy, while Brigid Byrne placed ninth to join teammate Beveridge on the second team.
Army and Colgate each had two All-League performances, while Lehigh, Lafayette, American and Holy Cross each had one.
Army's Chelsea Prahl was named to the first team with her sixth-place finish and teammate Marcie Nordt finished 13th to be on the second team. DeRoo was on the first team for Colgate, while Kendall Lyons finished 14th to make the second team.
As the runner-up, Pierce was named to the first team. Lafayette's Sarah Welsh-Huggins also had a First-Team All-League performance, finishing fourth. American's Octavia Rinehardt placed eighth to be named to the second team, along with Holy Cross' Paige Sutherland (12th).
Men's Outstanding Runner of the Meet: Chris Johnson, Colgate Men's Rookie of the Meet: John Dugan, Bucknell Men's Coach of the Year: Al Cantello, Navy
Men's First Team All-Patriot League: Chris Johnson, Colgate; Josh Olsen, American; James Pearson, Navy; Evans Kosgei, Lehigh; Ken Bunnell, Navy; Ryan Williams, American; Mark Allen, American.
Men's Second Team All-Patriot League: Cody Rome, Navy; John Pope, American; John Satterwhite, Navy; David Brown, Bucknell; Robbie Patterson, Navy; John Dugan, Bucknell; Dan Jester, Army.
Women's Outstanding Runner of the Meet: Jess Palacio, Navy Women's Rookie of the Meet: Annie-Norah Beveridge, Navy Women's Coach of the Year: Karen Boyle, Navy
Women's First Team All-Patriot League: Jess Palacio, Navy; Katherine Pierce, Lehigh; Elise DeRoo, Colgate; Sarah Welsh-Huggins, Lafayette; Caroline Tolli, Bucknell; Chelsea Prahl, Army; Stephanie Fulmer, Bucknell.