Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Are Villanova's XC Women the Team to Beat in 2010?
The answer is "yes," according to Running Times magazine:
NCAA Cross Country Preview 2010: Women
Can the Ducks beat the Wildcats? Will Hasay be the next Koll?
By Brian Metzler
As featured in the Web Only issue of Running Times Magazine
The top four runners from last year’s NCAA Division I cross country season have progressed: Illinois’ Angela Bizzarri, Colorado’s Jenny Barringer and Florida State’s Susan Kuijken have graduated and runner-up Kendra Schaaf transferred from Washington to UNC. Perhaps the best distance runner in the field last year, Iowa State’s Lisa Koll (11th) has also moved on to greener pastures.
What does that mean? This fall, there’s a blank canvas waiting to be splattered with paint, er, uh, mud. With several decorated stars gone, there’s a field of runners ready to make their mark, including protégés of Barringer and Koll.
Virginia’s Catherine White, somewhat of a surprise as the number four finisher last fall, is the top returnee, but so is Colorado sophomore Alli McLaughlin, who was somewhat of a surprise as the number five finisher last year as a true freshman. UTEP’s Ripser Kimaiyo (ninth last year, plus fourth in the 5,000m during the outdoor track season) looks like an up-and-comer. And Iowa State’s Betsy Saina came out of the cornfields with a runner-up finish in the 10,000m (behind Koll) at the NCAA track championships in June.
Which of those runners will be in the lead pack at the NCAA Division I Championships on Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind? Which schools are the teams to beat this fall? Here’s a primer to get the season started.
TEAM TO BEAT
They say repeating as champions is much harder than winning a title the first time. But that might not be the case with the Wildcat program, which won six straight NCAA titles from 1989-1994. That doesn’t have much to do with this season, but having five of its top six runners from last year’s NCAA championship team certainly does. Senior Amanda Marino (sixth at last year’s NCAA cross country meet, plus 11th in the 5,000m during the outdoor track season) leads the way, but also back are juniors Sheila Reid (13th in cross country, fourth in the 1500m in track) and Bogdana Mimic (22nd in cross country, 13th in the 5,000m on the track) and senior Ali Smith (24th in cross country) and Brooke Simpson (60th). History might also be on ‘Nova’s side: Since 1989, only six different schools have won an NCAA title: Villanova (8), Stanford (5), BYU (4), Colorado (2), Washington (1) and Providence (1).
The Ducks didn’t have a great national championship race, but they should be stronger than they were a year ago now that Jordan Hasay (18th) has a full year of college experience under her belt. Oregon has plenty of depth, but the real key might be senior Alex Kosinski, who finished a disappointing 81st last year after battling the flu and injuries midway through the season. (She was eighth in 2008 and 13th in 2007.) Fellow seniors Claire Michel (87th at NCAAs last fall and the school record-holder in the 3,000m steeplechase) and Zoe Buckman (Pac-10 1500-meter champion) will help out, but freshman Sarah Andrews (2009 Pan Am 5,000-meter champion) could also have an immediate impact.
After a runner-up showing last year following two third-place finishes in 2007 and 2008, coach Karen Harvey has the Seminoles heading in the right direction. The ‘Noles will need to have someone step up to replace Susan Kuijken, but with a nucleus of senior Pasca Cheruiyot (16th in cross country, fifth in the NCAA 10,000m), sophomore Amanda Winslow (39th), junior Jennifer Dunn (42nd) and senior Pilar McShine (55th last year, but 29th in 2008), the Seminoles should be in pretty good shape. They’ll be bolstered by senior Andrea Palen, who dropped a lot of time off her track PRs, and by Northern Arizona transfer Astrid Leutert.
It’s so hard to develop a dynasty in cross country. After winning the NCAA meet with a very young team in 2008, the Huskies slipped to third last year and then lost top runner Kendra Schaaf (transfer to North Carolina) and top assistant coach Kelly Strong (who’s now at Cal-Poly). That said, coach Greg Metcalf still has a cupboard full of talent, including two-time All-Americans Mel Lawrence and Christine Babcock.
OTHERS TO WATCH
After a solid seventh-place effort from a year ago, the Gators bring back six of its top seven runners, including Rebecca Lowe (15th) and Charlotte Browning (21st).
Another program loaded with young talent, the Cardinal will be counting on junior Stephanie Marcy (53rd), Kathy Kroeger (63rd and fifth in the NCAA 5,000m in the spring) and sophomore Alex Dunne (73rd).
Last year’s eighth-place team had six freshman and sophomores. Carly Seymour (29th) is the top returnee.
Jenny Barringer has moved on, but a young nucleus lead by sophomore Allie McLaughlin (fifth last year) and junior Emma Coburn (115th).
OTHER PROGRAMS ON THE RISE IN 2010: North Carolina, Providence, Virginia, Syracuse, BYU, Georgetown, UTEP
Jordan Hasay, Oregon—After a slow start to her college career, Hasay hit her stride in track and should be in the mix this fall.
Catherine White, Virginia—She’s the top returning runner from 2009, when she finished fourth among individuals as a junior.
Allie McLaughlin, Colorado—Placed fifth last year as a true freshman in just her third season as a distance runner.
Betsy Saina, Iowa State—She finished 141st at NCAAs last year, but while training with Lisa Koll she took second in the NCAA 10,000m run in the spring.
AND DON’T FORGET
Amanda Marino, Villanova; Emily Infeld, Georgetown; Risper Kimaiyo, UTEP; Kathy Kroeger, Stanford; Cecily Lemmon, BYU; Emily Sisson, Wisconsin.