The Saint Joseph's College athletic programs enjoyed a tremendous inaugural year in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC). Teams and individuals received regional recognition while new rivalries took shape.
Twelve of 14 St. Joe's teams competed in the GNAC, as both the field hockey and men's lacrosse squads played as independents. (Both teams will join the North Atlantic Conference for their upcoming seasons, and the men's lacrosse team will join the GNAC in 2011, the first year the conference will sponsor the sport.)
For the 12 teams, joining the GNAC provided an opportunity to extend their seasons, as conference playoff champions receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
The conference proved to be a perfect match competitively, as 11 teams experienced postseason play. The women's cross country team also secured the first GNAC Championship in St. Joe's history in a meet hosted on campus in late October. The Monks nearly swept that day, as the men's cross country squad earned a runner-up finish in the 8K race, with junior Ryan Prescott winning the race to take home GNAC Men's Cross Country Runner of the Year honors.
The baseball and women's soccer teams both hosted conference tournament contests, and the baseball team succeeded in winning the conference championship to secure a berth into the NCAA New England Regional Tournament.
Twenty-nine athletes, including 15 First Team honorees, were named to GNAC All-Conference teams. Senior Luke Enman was named as the 2008 Baseball Player of the Year, while freshman swimmer Lindsay D'Ascanio and freshman baseball player Ian Lee both received 2008 GNAC Rookie of the Year honors. A pair of SJC athletes, D'Ascanio and freshman cross country runner Katie Murphy, each received GNAC Rookie of the Week certificates five times!
In addition, Will Sanborn '86 achieved a milestone in his 16th season as the head coach of the Monks baseball team by notching his 400th career victory on April 24.
The Saint Joseph's College athletic programs appear to have found a home in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference. "Entering this conference was an important step for Saint Joseph's athletics," says athletic director Brian Curtin. "Having a home for our teams, having the opportunity to compete for automatic bids to the NCAA national tournament and building new rivalries are all valuable aspects."
- by Corey McCarthy