BIG EAST Cross Country Championship Preview

CHAMPIONSHIP CENTRAL

 

Fourteen men's and 15 women's BIG EAST cross country teams will head to Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, N.Y., this Friday to compete in the 2012 BIG EAST Cross Country Championships. The meet will be hosted by St. John's, with the women's six-kilometer race beginning at 11 a.m., and the men's eight-kilometer race to follow at 11:50 a.m.

 

Women's Team Race: Returning Powers

The top three teams from last year appear to be in good shape for 2012. Villanova, the defending champion, returns two of its top five finishers from a year ago. The Wildcats took first and second in the individual race to earn 54 points and win by nine points over Providence. Both top finishers for Villanova graduated, leaving junior Olanike Akande and sophomore Emily Lipari to carry the team in 2012. The Wildcats finished seventh at the Paul Short Run and seventh at the Pre-NCAA Meet in Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 13. Villanova is currently ranked 22nd in the latest USATFCCCA poll.

 

Providence used three top-10 finishes to place second at the 2011 BIG EAST Championships. The Friars return two of their three top-10 finishers, and three of the top five that scored.  Junior Emily Sisson, junior Laura Nagel and senior Shelby Greany will lead a young Providence team. The Friars finished sixth at the Paul Short Run in Bethlehem, Pa., on Sept. 28, and sixth of 49 at the University of Wisconsin Adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 12. Providence is ranked 10th in the latest USATFCCCA poll.

 

Georgetown finished in third place last year, and went on to win the 2011 NCAA Women's Cross Country Championship. The Hoyas lost senior Emily Infeld, who ran to a fifth-place individual finish in the 2011 BIG EAST Championship. Georgetown returns four of its five top finishers from last year's conference championship, including senior Emily Jones, senior Kirsten Kasper, sophomore Katrina Coogan and sophomore Annamarie Maag. Georgetown is ranked ninth in the latest USATFCCCA poll.

 

Women's Team Race Wild Card: Notre Dame

Notre Dame finished sixth in 2011, but is poised to make a push after a strong regular season. Of the top 40 finishers individually, 24 of them were returning underclassmen. Notre Dame accounts for four of those returners. Georgetown is the only team with more returning underclassmen in the top 40 with five. Notre Dame's experience has helped the Fighting Irish to three top two team finishes this season. The Irish also finished 12th at the University of Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. Notre Dame is ranked 19th in the latest USATFCCCA poll.

 

Women's Team Race Quick Hits

 

Cincinnati

Last Year's Finish: 10th

Top Returner (Finish): Emily Clay, So. (60)

Top Team Finish in 2012: Second place at Queen City Invitational in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sept. 7.

 

Connecticut

Last Year's Finish: 7th

Top Returner (Finish): Lauren Sara, Jr. (8)

Top Team Finish in 2012: Fourth place at Dartmouth Invitational in Hanover, N.H., on Sept. 8; Fourth place at CCSU Ted Owen Invitational in New Britain, Conn., on Sept. 22; Fourth place at the Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sept. 29.

 

DePaul

Last Year's Finish: 14th

Top Returner (Finish):  Jackie Kasal (107)

Top Team Finish in 2012: Third place at Elmhurst College Early Bird Invitational in Elmhurst, Ill., on Aug. 31.

 

Louisville

Last Year's Finish: 11th

Top Returner (Finish): Michelle Molodynia, So. (79)

Top Team Finish in 2012: First place at the Mid-America Opener in Evansville, Ind., on Sept. 1.

 

Marquette

Last Year's Finish: 9th

Top Returner (Finish): Elisia Meyle, So. (55)

Top Team Finish in 2012: Second place at the NIU Huskie Open in DeKalb, Ill., on Sept. 7.

 

Pittsburgh

Last Year's Finish: 16th

Top Returner (Finish): Morgan Perry, So. (98)

Top Team Finish in 2012: First place at the Cappy Anderson Invitational in Princess Anne, Md., on Sept. 15.

 

Rutgers

Last Year's Finish: 10th

Top Returner (Finish): Brianna Deming, Jr. (58)

Top Team Finish in 2012: First place at the Monmouth Invitational in Holmdel, N.J., on Sept. 15.

 

Seton Hall

Last Year's Finish: 15th

Top Returner (Finish): Mary Migton, So. (72)

Top Team Finish in 2012: Second place at the Monmouth XC Kickoff in Holmdel, N.J., on Sept. 1; second place at the Hofstra Brick Stone Run in Bethpage, N.Y., on Sept. 8; second place at the Cappy Anderson Invitational in Princess Anne, Md., on Sept. 15.

 

USF

Last Year's Finish: 8th

Top Returner (Finish): Kelli Williams, Sr. (69)

Top Team Finish in 2012: Third place at the USF Invitational in Tampa, Fla., on Sept. 7.

 

St. John's

Last Year's Finish: 13th

Top Returner (Finish): Chelsea Trant, Sr. (101)

Top Team Finish in 2012: First place at the Hofstra Brick Stone Run in Bethpage, N.Y., on Sept. 8; first place at the C.W. Post Invitational in Brookville, N.Y., on Sept. 15.

 

Syracuse

Last Year's Finish: 4th

Top Returner (Finish): Sarah Pagano, Sr. (14)

Top Team Finish in 2012: First place at the Harry Lang Invitational in Hamilton, N.Y., on Sept. 1.

 

Women's Individual Race

For the first time since 2008, Villanova's Sheila Reid will not be the individual champion.  Providence junior Emily Sisson is the top returning finisher from last year's championships, finishing in fourth place. Fellow Friar Laura Nagel finished sixth a year ago. Providence freshman Sarah Mary Collins could be a wild card in the women's race. Collins finished sixth overall and second among freshmen in a field of 327 in a stacked nationally ranked field at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 12.

 

Connecticut's Lauren Sara finished eighth in 2011, and could make a move for the top spot this year. The junior finished in second place at the Dartmouth invitational in Hanover, N.H., on Sept. 8, behind 2011 NCAA Cross Country third-place finisher Abbey D'Agostino of Darmouth.

 

Men's Team Race: Returning Powers

Villanova will look to defend its 2011 BIG EAST Championship after returning three of its top six finishers. All three top returning men's runners for Villanova earned a spot on the All-BIG EAST Team last year. The Wildcats won the 2011 BIG EAST Championship with 43 points, 51 points better than the second-place team. Sophomore Sam McEntee returns off his top-freshman performance a year ago along with seniors Matthew Kane and Mathew Mildenhall. The Wildcats finished first at the Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa., on Sept. 28 and eighth at the Pre-NCAA Meet in Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 13. Villanova is ranked 25th in the latest USATFCCCA poll.

 

Georgetown returns its top finisher from last year, graduate student Mark Dennin. Dennin finished seventh individually to lead the Hoyas to second place. Georgetown also returns sophomore John Murray, its only other returner from the Hoyas' top five in the 2011 BIG EAST Championship. The Hoyas finished second at the Penn State Invitational in State College, Pa., on Sept. 8, third at the Paul Short Invitational in Bethlehem, Pa., on Sept. 28 and ninth at the Pre-NCAA Meet in Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 13. Georgetown is ranked 27th in the latest USATFCCCA poll.

 

Louisville returns two of its top three finishers from 2011, including junior Tyler Byrne and senior Gordon Dooley. The Cardinals lost Matthew Hughes, who placed third in last year's race. Louisville looks poised to replace Hughes with freshmen Ernest Kibet and Japhet Kipkoech. Kibet and Kipkoech have both recorded impressive individual performances this season. The Cardinals placed first at the Mid-America Opener in Evansville, Ind., on Sept. 1, first at the Winthrop Invitational in Rock Hill, S.C., on Sept. 15, sixth at the Greater Louisville Classic in Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 29 and 12th at the Pre-NCAA Meet in Louisville, Ky., on Oct. 13.  

 

Men's Team Race Wild Card: Syracuse

After winning back to back BIG EAST Championships in 2009 and 2010, the Orange finished fourth in 2011. Syracuse returns two of its top five runners from the 2011 championships. Junior Robert Molke, sophomore Jon Squeri and sophomore Andrew Palmer lead a young Syracuse roster that is 75 percent underclassmen. The Orange finished first at the Dartmouth Invitational in Hanover, N.H., on Sept. 8, first at the Toledo Bubble Buster in Toledo, Ohio on Sept. 21, 11th at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 12 and 11th at the John Reif Memorial Invitational in Ithaca, N.Y., on Oct. 19. Syracuse is ranked 16th in the latest USATFCCCA poll.

 

Men's Team Race Quick Hits

 

Cincinnati

Last Year's Finish: 8th

Top Returner (Finish): Ethan Baum, Jr. (61)

Top Team Finish in 2012: First place at All-Ohio Championships in Cedarville, Ohio on Sept. 29.

 

Connecticut

Last Year's Finish: 10th

Top Returner (Finish): Nick Aguila, Sr. (43)

Top Team Finish in 2012: First place at Connecticut College Invite in New London, Conn., on Oct. 13.

 

DePaul

Last Year's Finish: 9th

Top Returner (Finish): Chris Miedemia, So. (74)

Top Team Finish in 2012: Second place at Elmhurst College Early Bird Invitational in Elmhurst, Ill., on Aug. 31.

 

Marquette

Last Year's Finish: 7th

Top Returner (Finish): Jack Senefeld, Jr. (39)

Top Team Finish in 2012: Second place at the NIU Huskie Open at DeKalb, Ill., on Sept. 7.

 

Notre Dame

Last Year's Finish: 6th

Top Returner (Finish): Martin Grady, Jr. (81)

Top Team Finish in 2012: First place at the National Catholic Championship in South Bend, Ind., on Sept. 14.

 

Pittsburgh

Last Year's Finish: 13th

Top Returner (Finish):  Rich Addison, Jr. (81)

Top Team Finish in 2012: First place at the Cappy Anderson Invitational in Princess Anne, Md., on Sept. 15.

 

Providence

Last Year's Finish: 5th

Top Returner (Finish): Shane Quinn, So. (28)

Top Team Finish in 2012: First place at the UNH Meet in Durham, N.H., on Aug. 31.

 

Rutgers

Last Year's Finish: 11th

Top Returner (Finish): Chris Banafato, Jr. (78)

Top Team Finish in 2012: Second place at the Father Leeber S.J. Invitational in Fairfield, Conn., on Sept. 22.

 

Seton Hall

Last Year's Finish: 14th

Top Returner (Finish): Jared Hanko, Sr. (88)

Top Team Finish in 2012: Second place at the Hofstra Brick Stone Run in Bethpage, N.Y., on Sept. 8; second place at the Cappy Invitational in Princess Anne, Md., on Sept. 15; second place at the Embry-Riddle Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Sept. 22.

 

USF

Last Year's Finish: 12th

Top Returner (Finish): Steven Fernandez, Jr. (98)

Top Team Finish in 2012: Sixth place at the USF Invitational in Tampa, Fla., on Sept. 7.

 

Men's Individual Race

Georgetown's Mark Dennin is the top returning finisher from 2011. The graduate student finished seventh. Notre Dame and Villanova are the only other teams returning runners from the All-BIG EAST Cross Country team. Villanova returns sophomore Sam McEntee (11th place), senior Matthew Kane (13th place) and Mathew Mildenhall (14th place). Notre Dame returns junior Martin Grady (10th place) and senior Jeremy Rae (12th place).

 

For more information and updates on the 2012 BIG EAST Cross Country Championships, visit Championship Central.