By P.J. Wright, news correspondent

In its final meet of the season, the Northeastern University (NU) men’s cross country team clinched first place at the 107th Annual IC4A/ECAC Championship at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City on Nov. 21. The title is the men’s first since 1975.

The Huskies cruised to victory, tallying 77 points, followed by Rutgers University in second with 114 points and Marist College in third with 121. In the closely-contested women’s race, the Huskies finished their season in seventh with 131 points in the afternoon, only 10 points shy of the third-place spot.

As he’s done all season, graduate student Nephat Maritim led the charge for the Huskies in the five-mile race, sailing in at second place out of 183 runners with a finishing time of 25:36.4.

His performance caps off an impressive final cross country season. Head Coach Cathrine Erickson has marveled at his everyday work ethic and ability to be a positive mentor.

“I will also miss how gracious he is for every opportunity afforded to him,” Erickson said in an email to The News. “It is so important for everyone to appreciate every aspect of being a part of this program, and he shows it all of the time.”

Junior Jordan O’Dea added to Erickson’s sentiments, discussing Maritim’s ability to inspire his teammates.

“Nephat is a very strong leader,” she said. “He not only motivates the guys’ team to push themselves, but he helps to motivate the girls’ team as well. When I am nervous or need to talk to someone before races, I confide in him, and it has helped a lot to give me confidence going into races.”

Sophomore phenom Christian Stafford also put forward a great race to end the year, coming in sixth place with a time of 26:03.2. Following him in eighth place was freshman Dan Romano at 26:06.0. O’Dea led all female NU runners, finishing in third place at 18:20.0 in the 5k. Her sophomore teammate Brooke Wojeski was right behind in sixth, crossing the finish line at 18:37.3.

“[Brooke] helps to motivate me by always having a positive attitude,” O’Dea said. “At our conference championship meet, she played a big role in my finishing that race because I had been sick for a few weeks… She helped get me through it by running with me toward the end of the race and motivating me to be able to finish.”

With several standout runners for both the men and women and only one senior leaving both squads, Erickson sees plenty of promise for the future.

“I am most excited that this group has some good experiences to draw from and can see how some of the victories from this year can grow into larger victories in the future, provided they continue to stay serious about their running and keep working hard,” she said.

Northeastern will begin the indoor track and field season at the Boston University Season Opener on Saturday.

Photo courtesy Northeastern Athletics