ALFRED November 21, 2006 April Ackermann recently made program history for the SUNY Cobleskill Fighting Tigers when she became the college’s first women’s individual national cross country champion.
On November 11, Ackermann, a talented freshman from Cochecton, covered the water logged 5,000 meter mountain course in a time of 21 minutes, 25.5 seconds to outdistance Herkimer County Community College’s Sarah Lazarus by 36 seconds at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III national championship meet, which was held at Alfred State College.
The triumph was the program-record eighth victory of the season for Ackermann, a 2006 graduate of Sullivan West Central School. She also earned First Team NJCAA All-American honors in the process.
A total of 199 athletes representing 28 different NJCAA Division III cross country programs competed in the mud at the national championship meet. Gloucester (NJ) County College won its first ever national title on the women’s side, while SUNY Delhi won the men’s title for the third straight year.
Ackermann’s freshman teammate Sarah Furman of West Berne also continued her successful season, earning Second Team NJCAA All-American honors by placing 10th overall in a time of 23:00.
In the end, the SUNY Cobleskill women’s cross country program came up eight points short of a national title. The Fighting Tigers posted a team score of 67 points to tie with William Rainey Harper College of Palatine, IL, which was just eight points behind the Gloucester CC runners, who posted a score of 59 points in the meet.
After a season that saw his program capture Mountain Valley Conference and NJCAA Region III Division III championships and post the second national runner-up finish in program history, SUNY Cobleskill Head Coach Mitch Tomaszkiewicz spoke candidly about the season and the future.
“It’s been a great ride and even though we didn’t win a national title, we have a great deal to be proud of this season,” he said. “Certainly we have reestablished our program as a national power and any time you win conference and regional titles you have cause to celebrate.
“Individually there are not enough superlatives to describe April Ackermann’s season, so I will simply say that she’s the best and I’m a very lucky coach to get to work with her on a daily basis,” Tomaszkiewicz continued. “Sarah Furman also deserves a lot of credit because, to use a basketball analogy, she does a very good impression of Scottie Pippen to April’s Michael Jordan, and because of her hard work we are a much better team. But all of our kids did a great job this season and they will always be special to me.
“Now we’re going to start thinking about 2007 and taking the next step. Our goal is to win a national championship and we are going to recruit and train towards accomplishing that next year.”
The Fighting Tigers were NJCAA Division III national champions in 2000 and were the national runners-up in 2003. Ackermann becomes Coach Tomaszkiewicz’s first NJCAA national champion after having athletes earn the national runner-up position on five different occasions.
During Tomaszkiewicz’s tenure at Cobleskill, the Fighting Tigers have had 34 NJCAA All-Americans.