Aug 30, 2013
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – Extended periods of running is often the punishment doled out to athletes in other sports. By nature, the act itself is a challenge because of the stress it puts on the body and the level of fitness it requires.
Inadequacies are quickly exposed.
Take all that into consideration and factor in a program in transition and the accomplishments of the 2012 Seton Hall women’s cross country team are that much more meaningful. The team began the year with three-straight second-place team finishes, a stretch that included an individual victory for senior Hughnique Rolle at the Hofstra Brick Stone Run, the first such win for Seton Hall since the program made the switch to exclusively cross country.
The 2013 team will be led by a set of captains Nyala Eddings (Chicago, Ill.), a senior, and junior Mary Migton (Ledgewood, N.J.) who over the past two years have proven to be among the team’s most dependable performers and were instrumental in last year’s progress.
Eddings is entering her second year in a captain’s role as has been a part of the SHU contingent in each of the last 18 races since the beginning of the 2011 season. In 2012, she, along with the team, took a giant leap forward. Her season included nine scoring efforts, highlighted by personal records at both the 5K and 6K distances. Her first-place team finish at the ECAC Championship to close the season marked the first time that a SHU female other than Rolle had led the team in a span of 10 races.
Since stepping foot on campus, Eddings has scored in all but two meets she has competed in.
Following a freshman season in which she led the team in seven events, Migton did not disappoint in her sophomore campaign as she was among the top-five Pirates in every meet on the schedule, finishing in the top-three on the squad eight times. At the ECAC meet the last time SHU took to the course, she crossed the line just three spots behind Eddings with a 57th place effort, sending The Hall into the offseason with the knowledge that a formidable duo would be returning in 2013.
“Nyala and Mary provide a terrific presence for our team,” said coach John Moon
. “Not only do they succeed in competition, but their commitment to training and getting better is unparalleled. They take the workouts that I give them as a challenge, and it’s something that trickles down through the whole team and helps make us stronger as a group.”
The team’s third captain, Kristen May (Shrewsbury, Mass.), is a senior entering her third season competing for the Pirates and is coming off a junior season in which she developed into one of the strongest competitors on the squad. After recording her first-ever scoring time in the fourth meet of the season, she proceeded to finish among the team’s top-five in the next three outings as well.
With Eddings, Migton and Rolle locking down the majority of the top-five spots on the team a year ago, sophomore Amanda Quaglia (Reading, Pa.) inserted herself into the conversation among the Pirates’ top-runners through her performances as well. Quaglia joined the veteran trio in scoring in all nine meets the team entered. She recorded four straight top-16 overall finishes to start her career and at the 6K NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, finished in 23:39; a mark that stood as the team’s second-best 6K time of the year.
Classmate Alex Ryan (Aurora, Colo.) saw her freshman season both start and end strongly in 2012. Ryan scored in the first three meets of her career and closed the year with two-straight top-five efforts for the team as well.
What the 2013 women’s squad features that has not been present in the past is a long list of team members who have been through the rigors of an entire season and know first-hand what it takes to compete at this level.
Sophomore Samantha Young (Upper Black Eddy, Pa.) competed in all nine meets for The Hall a year ago, notching a pair of top-50 finishes.
Juniors Felicia Mingrone (Shelton, Conn.) and Louisa Ozimek (Strongsville, Ohio) as well as sophomores Amanda Catherall (Farmingdale, N.Y.) and Maggie Jodon (Orange, Conn.) each also posted two top-50 finishes of their own while all competing in at least six events.
Junior Allyson Guieb (Robbinsville, N.J.) who battled injuries a year ago but posted some impressive results during the spring track season and sophomore Bri Miller (Bayonne, N.J.) who is entering her first full season with the team will look to contribute to a group keen on improving last year’s effort which saw the women’s team record its best finish at the BIG EAST Championship in eight years.
Easing the impact of losing Rolle as well as Christina Chafos and Marigot Lustyk is a skilled group of four fresh faces.
Desyre Blackburn (Aloha, Ore.) hails from a part of the country known to produce top distance athletes and certainly fits the mold. An All-State an All-League performer from 2010-12, she was elected the captain of her cross country team as a senior and lists a personal-best 5K time of 18:44 that would have been tops on the Seton Hall squad last season.
Local product Tiffany Callanan (Toms River, N.J.) is an experienced competitor, lettering in cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track during all four years of her high school career. As a senior, she helped Toms River North advance to the NJSIAA Meet of Champions where her team placed sixth.
Fellow Garden State native Caitlin O’Kane (Morris Plains, N.J.) joins the Pirates is also a veteran of the NJSIAA Meet of Champions after having helped Morristown High School advance to the prestigious event as an All-Conference honorable mention performer in 2011. Like Callanan, she also lettered in cross country and track and served as a captain for both squads.
For the fifth-straight season, SHU cross country will be led in part by a young lady by the name of Rolle as Holli Rolle (Nassau, Bahamas), younger sister of Hughnique, readies for her first collegiate campaign. Similar to her sister, Holli is among the most accomplished runners in her native Bahamas having won a high school cross country championship as well as national titles in the 800m, 1,500m and 3,000m. In 2012, she was dubbed the Bahamas Most Outstanding Female Athlete under 20 years old and has represented her home nation at a variety of competitions in her career.
“When we’re healthy, this is without question the best cross country team that I have had here,” said Moon. “We have some injuries on the women’s side that we hope to straighten out but in the meantime, we have plenty of girls that can step up and perform.”
“Like the men, the girls are ready to go,” he continued. “They have been working extremely hard to prepare and will bring an attitude to the course that will definitely put other teams on notice.”
The 2013 season begins tomorrow, Saturday, August 31 at the Monmouth XC Kickoff at Thompson Park in Lincroft N.J. Monmouth is one of eight courses on the schedule that the Pirates also ran a year ago, with the Delaware Invitational serving as the only new addition.
In the first season of the revamped BIG EAST Conference, Marquette will play host to the conference championship meet, one that Moon believes will provide a tough test for his squad.
“In cross country, the new conference is still going to be one of the toughest in the nation,” Moon proclaimed. “Georgetown, Marquette and Providence were near the top of the league even before the switch and that’s the level that we are striving for. I’m hoping this team can impress with what they do at the championship meet this season.”
“It’s a challenge I believe we’ll be ready for.”