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NOVA Cross Country Looks Toward NJCAA Championship


NOVA’s cross country team started off the 2017 season with some fresh new talent and the goal of winning the National Junior College Athletic Association national championships.

NOVA’s cross country team is the three-time NJCAA champion, and the favorite to take home the win this year according to Athletic Director Steve Mrowka. This year, the team is scheduled to compete in four meets. With three meets behind them, the team looks forward to finishing the semester strong as a team in the championships and as individuals in the classroom. 

Led by Head Coach Nicole Mancini and Assistant Coach Beth Bisbee, cross country team members are not only about the sport; they’re looking forward to making it to the championship while still excelling in the classroom.

While they’re all working toward a common goal athletically, the team members all have different backgrounds and reasons for choosing NOVA and joining the team. First-year NOVA student Berith Austin was home schooled and took dual enrollment classes at NOVA.

Previously, Austin ran track and played lacrosse, softball and golf. She chose NOVA because it’s more affordable, and joined the cross country team to get the full college experience.

“I chose NOVA for financial reasons. I know a lot of parents pay for their kids to go to school. But I have to pay out of pocket. I think you can get the same education here at NOVA. School is just so expensive nowadays. There are so many people who want it and can’t get it because of the cost,” Austin said. “I’m excited to get to know these girls and learn more about the college experience. I’ve never done that before, besides dual enrollment. I’m excited about making my life more my own and learning who I am.”

Second-year NOVA student Sarah Dierlam ran cross country in high school and after a friend who attended NOVA told her about the team, she was all in. With a full time job as an elementary school tutor, Dierlam said choosing NOVA gave her the opportunity to balance work, education, sports and a social life. Dierlam is studying science and plans to transfer to a four-year university in 2018.

“The selling point for me with NOVA was the opportunity for a good way to complete school and save time, money, have a manageable schedule and being able to compete and find time for a job on the side. It’s just all very time manageable.”

So far this season, cross country has done pretty well with one NOVA runner – Kmaljeet Athwal – breaking the program mark for the fastest time in a 6K to help the Nighthawks finish fourth at the Salisbury Fall Classic in early September.

The Nighthawks closed out their run at the Bill Fritz Invitational in eighth place out of 13 with 217 points. The fourth meet of the season is the 5K Horrent Harrier in Winchester, Va., on the Kernstown Battlefield before the team heads to the NJCAA National Championship meet in November.

For students considering NOVA and wanting to participate in athletics, Dierlam said she would advise them to stay positive and motivated and try out for cross country and other NOVA athletics programs.

“The major thing is just keeping yourself motivated. Get up early in the day to get organized and knock things out one at a time,” she said. “If you’re interested, cross country accepts all runners of all shapes, sizes and paces.”

For more on cross country and other NOVA athletic programs, visit the official NOVA athletics website.


Media Contact: Raytevia Evans | 703.425.5839 | revans@nvcc.edu


Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.