Oct. 25, 2012
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
The University of Louisville cross country teams embark for Bronx, N.Y., for the BIG EAST Championships on Friday, Oct. 26, at Van Cortlandt Park.
Historically, the BIG EAST Conference has been known to boast some of the best cross country teams around the country, and this year's no different as eight teams ranked in the top-30 nationally enter the championship meet.
The event begins with the women's 6K championship at 11 a.m., followed by the men's 8K race at 11:50 a.m.
Last year, the men's cross country team was three points shy of taking runner-up honors for the second-straight season. The Cardinals received top-25 individual finishes from Matt Hughes (third), Tyler Byrne (18th), Gordon Dooley (22nd) and Matt Bruce (24th), collecting 96 team points, two more than Georgetown.
Louisville's men, who line up against 16th-ranked Syracuse, 25th-ranked Villanova and No. 27 Georgetown, have put together strong performances in the last three meets. In its most recent race, the Pre-National meet, Louisville posted a solid 12th-place finish on the heels of freshman Ernest Kibet's 18th-place showing. The Kenyan native, competing in just his third race, ran a personal-best 8K time of 23:45.7. Prior to that meet, Louisville took sixth at the Greater Louisville Classic and won the adidas/Winthrop Invitational, where Kibet recorded his first collegiate victory.
"Coach (Ron) Mann, coach (Taryn) Sheehan and myself have all looked at the results through the past few weeks, and on the men's side, it looks like Villanova and Syracuse would be the clear favorites, but we all know the race isn't run on paper," assistant coach Joe Walker said. "I don't think we've shown yet what we're truly capable of doing. If we can put it together, we feel like we've got a shot to be right in that mix.
"It's as wide open as it's been in a while. I think, depending upon how it's run, if you ran the race four times, you'd have four different champions. It'll really depend upon who gets it done that day."
On the women's side, the Cardinals placed 11th at last year's championships. The top returnee from that team, Michelle Molodynia, consistently has been the Cardinals' top runner this season and continues to improve her times. The sophomore ran her personal-best 6K mark at the Pre-National meet on Oct. 13, clocking a time of 22:16.0 for a top-50 finish.
The Cardinals' women's squad faces an even tougher challenge, as five BIG EAST squads are ranked in the top 30: No. 9 Georgetown, No. 10 Providence, No. 19 Notre Dame, No. 22 Villanova and No. 29 Connecticut. Louisville faced a competitive field of teams the last time out at the Pre-National competition and took 26th.
For the latest information on Louisville cross country and track and field, log on to UofLsports.com, or, for up-to-the-minute updates, follow the team's Twitter account at www.twitter.com/uofltrackxc or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/uofltrackxc.