Return To The Mecca: St. John's Cross Country Eyes Successful Van Cortlandt Homecoming At Iona Meet of Champions

Sept. 19, 2013

QUEENS, N.Y. - The St. John’s women’s cross country team will make its highly anticipated first trip of the year to famed Van Cortland Park, “The Mecca of American Cross Country,” this Saturday, Sept. 21 to take part in the 19th Annual Br. John “Paddy” Doyle/Iona Meet of Champions hosted by Iona College.

The Red Storm last competed at the Br. John Doyle Meet of Champions in 2011, placing 10th out of 19 teams. Saturday’s women’s championship 6K race is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., followed by the men’s championship 8K race at 10:15 a.m. St. John’s will be returning to its unofficial home course, Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, N.Y., for the first time since placing 12th at last year’s ECAC Championships on Nov. 17.

“We are looking forward to returning to Van Cortlandt Park for the Br. Doyle Invite, which is traditionally one of the top early season meets in the region,” said Red Storm coach Jim Hurt. “We will be tested over the 6,000-meter distance and the challenging VCP course, so it will tell us what we can look forward to at the Metropolitan Championships, the NCAA Regional and the ECAC Championships over the next two months. We had a great team performance last week at the LIU Post Invitional and need to improve again this weekend. Our ladies have been practicing hard, so I am very excited about what they can run this weekend.”

Eighteen other teams will toe the line alongside St. John’s on Saturday morning. Included in the field is a pair of Ivy League Conference members ranked in the Northeast Region in No. 9 Yale and No. 11 Brown as well as defending champion Army.



After opening the season on St. John’s University’s Oakdale, N.Y. campus at the SJU-Hofstra Fall XC Festival, the Red Storm recorded a handful of personal-best performances last week to claim third place at the LIU Post Invitational in Brookville, N.Y. Sophomore Kerri Butler led St. John’s for the first time in her career, finishing fifth overall with a personal-best 5K time of 18:50.04, while Michelle Duffy continued to lead by example with a sixth-place finish reached in 18:52.34, also a career best.

The sophomore trio of Ashlin Conroy and twin sisters Michelle Van Pelt and Stephanie Van Pelt continues to show improvement in the early season, as all three cracked the top-35 last week while Conroy and Michelle Van Pelt recorded personal bests for the 5K distance.

Duffy was the Red Storm’s fifth runner the last time St. John’s competed at the Br. John Doyle Meet of Champions in 2011, finishing 89th overall in 25:11. Red Storm alumna Nicole Cocozza led the way for Hurt’s squad that day, finishing 13th overall, while St. John’s posted a team average of 24:02 and a spread of 2:08 between its first and fifth runner.

For race-day updates and results from St. John’s cross country’s return to Van Cortlandt Park and to keep up to date on all team news, follow on Twitter @StJohnsXCTF and by using the hashtag #stjohnsxc. To be added to the St. John’s women’s cross country fans e-mail list send a message to with the subject: “St. John’s women’s XC e-mail.”