Oct. 23, 2007
By Whitney Harris
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A strong trio of nationally ranked women's teams lead a deep field at the BIG EAST Cross Country Championships scheduled for Saturday at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky.
The women's race kicks off at 11:50 a.m. ET and with the teams from West Virginia, Providence and Georgetown all among the top 30 teams in the nation this week, it is clear this year's competition will be a challenging race for all 16 squads.
Heading up the polls for the BIG EAST this week is Georgetown, ranked 11th overall. The Hoyas placed second at the 2006 BIG EAST championship and show unrelenting promise heading into this year's conference meet with their fifth-place finish at the Pre-Nationals.
"Pre-Nationals were the first time the whole team raced," said Georgetown head coach Chris Miltenberg. "We're making progress every week and everyone's training well. We are healthy going into the BIG EAST."
The Hoyas also have two top team finishes this season. They took first place at the James Madison Invitational in early September and raced into second place at the Colonial Inter-Regional Challenge with the help of junior Melissa Grelli, the first Hoya to cross the finish line in 20:14 and in fifth place overall.
West Virginia holds the 19th national spot and has had an outstanding season thus far with two first place team finishes at the West Virginia Invite and Lock Haven Invitational. Sophomore stand-out Marie-Louise Asselin ran to first place at the Penn State National Open on Oct. 12 in 20:46, while close behind were fellow sophomores Keri Bland and Clara Grandt.
"Our top three runners continue to impress us thus far," praises head coach Sean Cleary. And with this season's success, the Mountaineers look to move up from last year's sixth-place conference finish.
Off to another fast start is last season's BIG EAST champion Providence College, ranked 22nd in the national polls this week. The Friars enter this week's event following a ninth-place finish at Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind., two weeks ago. Junior Danette Doetzel led the Friar pack with a sixth-place finish overall.
Based on this year's success and the returning runners from last year, coach Ray Tracey had this to say about regaining the conference title: "We have four women back who were in the top 15 last year in the BIG EAST so, we're solid on both sides and we have just as good of chance (to win) as we did last year."