PROVIDENCE, R.I. – After two months of competition, the BIG EAST cross country season comes to an end this weekend as all 16 squads descend on Jamesville, N.Y., for the 2010 BIG EAST Cross Country Championships. The meet will be held on Oct. 30 at Jamesville Beach Park, hosted by Syracuse University. The women kick things off at 10:30 a.m. ET with a 6k race, and the men’s 8k race will follow at 11:15 a.m. ET. Below is a preview of the 14 men’s teams and 16 women’s teams heading into this weekend’s meet.
The host Syracuse Orange are looking for back-to-back championships after claiming the title in 2009 at the Wayne E. Dannehl Course in Kenosha, Wis. Pat Dupont was the top-finisher for the Orange in fourth place, while Louisville’s Cory Thorne claimed the individual title. Six BIG EAST teams enter the meet ranked in the national top 30 according to the USTFCCCA. Information on the BIG EAST Championship can be found on SU's website at: http://www.suathletics.com/sports/2010/9/9/XC_0909101442.aspx?path=ccountry
Cincinnati: The Bearcats have been led all season by junior Eric Finan, who has been the top-finisher in each of Cincinnati’s meets. As a sophomore, Finan was the first Bearcat to cross the line at the 2009 BIG EAST Championships, finishing 24th with a time of 25:46. He will look to help Cincinnati improve on its eighth-place finish a year ago. The team is coming off a 25th-place finish at Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind., where Finan grabbed 13th.
Connecticut: Connecticut is coming off a first-place finish at the Connecticut College Invitational on Oct. 16 after placing four runners in the top 10. The Huskies have had four runners in the top 10 in two races this season, including the Connecticut College Invitational and the UMass Invitational. Sophomore Nick Aguila has paced the squad during three races this season, including a 25th-place finish at the New England Championship with a time of 25:19, the team’s fastest time this season. Ryan McGuire has also been a steady runner for the Huskies also this season, finishing sixth at the UMass Invitational. The Huskies finished 10th at the BIG EAST Championships in 2009.
DePaul: Junior Matthew Graham has been nothing short of impressive this season for the Blue Demons. Graham has claimed three BIG EAST Athlete of the Week awards for his outstanding individual performances this season, including a career-best time of 23:37 at the Bradley Classic on Oct. 21. The junior was the top-finisher for DePaul at the 2009 BIG EAST Championships, finishing 14th with a time of 25:18, helping the team to a ninth-place finish.
Georgetown: Georgetown enters the BIG EAST Championships at No. 21 in the latest national poll. The team took second at the 2009 BIG EAST Championships, but will need to replace two of its top runners in Andrew Bumbalough and Mike Krisch, who finished third and fifth respectively a year ago. The team is hoping that senior Ayalew Taye will continue to lead the pack after finishing 14th at Pre-Nationals, helping the Hoyas finish sixth of 36 teams. Senior T.C. Lumbar, who placed 32nd last year with a time of 26:02, will also be a main contributor in Saturday’s meet.
Louisville: Louisville finished fourth at the 2009 BIG EAST Cross Country Championships. Cory Thorne took first on the men's side, becoming the Cardinals' first league title winner in program history. Michael Eaton and Matt Hughes highlight this year's returnees. The two have been the squad's top finishers in each of the team's four races. Eaton earned All-BIG EAST honors last year for the second time in his career. Freshman Tyler Byrne has been a valuable addition, constantly finding himself among the top-30 finishers, including a seventh-place finish in his first career race at the Mid-American Invitational on Sept. 4.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles finished seventh at the 2009 BIG EAST Championships and return the team’s top-finisher in senior Brice Cleland. Cleland took 37th with a time of 26:09 and is coming off a 110th-place finish at Pre-Nationals on Oct. 16. Junior Blake Johnson, who finished 43rd last year, also had a strong showing at Pre-Nationals, coming in 125th with a time of 25:08.6.
Notre Dame: The Irish are ranked No. 23 in the latest USTFCCCA poll after claiming seventh at Pre-Nationals on Oct. 16. Senior Dan Jackson led the way, completing the 8k race in 24:11.3 to finish 19th. Notre Dame finished sixth at the BIG EAST Championships in 2009 and will be without top-finisher Jake Walker, who graduated. Jackson was the second Irish runner to cross the finish line last year, taking 30th with a time of 25:58. Junior Jordan Carlson and junior Jonathan Shawel also return for Notre Dame.
Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh last competed at the Penn State National where they finishing 23rd. Senior Joshua Christopher led the team by finishing 82nd. Last year, the Panthers finished 11th at the BIG EAST Championships as Christopher was the top runner in 47th-place. Sophomore Vinnie Depalma also returns after being the second Panther to cross the line last year.
Providence: Providence comes into the BIG EAST Championships after finished 14th in the White Race at Pre-Nationals on Oct. 16. Junior Lee Carey led the Friars with a sixth-place finish with a time of 23:47.2, while junior Dominic Channon fought for 46th. Providence finished fifth at the BIG EAST Championships in 2009 and returns a strong group of juniors for 2010. Carey leads the pack after a ninth-place finish in 2009 with a time of 25:06. Channon grabbed 21st last year while classmate Julian Matthews was 26th.
Rutgers: Nick Miehe is the top returning performer from last year’s BIG EAST Championship, as the senior finished 55th with a time of 27:15. Rutgers finished 12th in 2009 and returns three runners from last year’s squad. Junior Kevin Cronin also competed last year, finishing 78th with a time of 28:05, while classmate Ben Forrest finished 81st with a time of 28:34.
Seton Hall: Seton Hall last competed at the Leopard Invitational on Oct. 16. The men’s team only had four individuals compete and did not factor in the team standings. Freshman Carl Johnston led the way, taking 39th with a time of 27:11 on the 8k course. The Pirates finished 14th a year ago at the BIG EAST Championships, but returns five runners from last year’s squad. Junior Erik Chester is the team’s top returner, finishing 91st last year with a time of 29:40. Sophomore Jared Hanko, sophomore Mamadou Niang, junior Andrew O’Leary and senior Dwight Parker also return.
USF: The Bulls graduated their top performer from the 2009 BIG EAST Championships in Ryan Courtoy, but will turn to junior Philip Wise and senior Pedro Carela. Wise is the top returning performer having finished 77th in 2009 with a time of 28:05. Carela led the men’s team at the Penn State National, coming in 101st with a time of 27:05 in the 5.2-mile race. Carela took 86th last year with a time of 29:12. The Bulls finished 13th at the 2009 BIG EAST Championships.
Syracuse: The host Orange enter the 2010 BIG EAST Championships looking to repeat as conference champions after winning their first BIG EAST title in 2009. Syracuse is ranked second in the Northeast region and No. 17 nationally according to the USTFCCCA. Last year, then-sophomore Pat Dupont was the top finisher for the Orange, finishing fourth with a time of 24:51.
Villanova: The Wildcats enter the 2010 BIG EAST Championships ranked No. 29 in the latest USTFCCCA national poll. The squad finished third at the Championships in 2009, just 21 points behind Champion Syracuse. Villanova had a strong showing in its last meet at the Penn State National, coming in third of 27 teams. The top five runners for the Wildcats all finished in the top 23 individually at the meet. The team returns a very strong core, including top returning finisher from the 2009 Championships in sophomore Matthew Mildenhall who took second. Also returning is junior Matthew Gibney and senior Hugo Beamish, who placed 22nd and 23rd for the Wildcats in 2009. Junior Matthew Kane and senior Carl Mackenzie also gained experience at last year’s Championship and have had strong seasons. Kane was the top finisher at the Penn State National, finishing 14th.
The women’s field features some of the top teams in the country, including the nation’s No. 1 team in Villanova. The Wildcats are looking for their third straight BIG EAST title after winning not only the BIG EAST Championship, but also the NCAA Championship in 2009. The women’s field includes three other top 15 teams in Georgetown at No. 5, Syracuse at No. 8 and Providence at No. 13.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats lost two of their top performers from the BIG EAST Championships in 2009, as Jocelyn McCauley and Tamara Masters have both graduated. This season, Cincinnati turns to junior Michele McKenney, who finished 63rd last year while the team placed ninth. Also returning are seniors Lilian Jelimo and Katie Lewnard. McKenney led the Bearcats in their final meet of the season with a 107th-place finish at Pre-Nationals.
Connecticut: Connecticut enters the BIG EAST Championships after claiming second at the New England Championships on Oct. 9. As a team, the Huskies have finished in the top-3 in six out of eight races they’ve competed. Freshman Allison Lasnicki has led UConn in three of the four races she’s competed in this season, including the New England Championships in which she placed 14th overall. After placing second to claim the top performance in program history at the New England Championships, Connecticut will look to improve on last year’s 10th-place finish at the BIG EAST Championships.
DePaul: Senior Mary Cate Quiett and junior Toni Salvatore both return for the Blue Demons after being the top two finishers for DePaul at the BIG EAST Championships a year ago. Quiett finished 49th with a time of 22:59 while Salvatore crossed the line in 23:31 to take 58th. DePaul finished 11th as a team. The squad is coming off a second-place finish at the Bradley Classic on Oct. 15, as Salvatore finished eighth while Quiett, junior Claira O’Brien, junior Kelly Pickering and senior Stephanie Hughes all finished in the top 50.
Georgetown: The Hoyas enter the BIG EAST Championships ranked No. 5 in the country in the latest USTFCCCA poll. Georgetown finished first at Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Ind. on Oct. 16. Three runners finished in the top 20 and four were in the top 30. Sophomore Emily Jones paced the attack with a fifth-place finish of 275 competitors. Jones and junior Emily Infeld will look to lead the Hoyas at the BIG EAST Championships. In 2009, Infeld led Georgetown to a fourth-place finish, as she grabbed third with a time of 21:04 while Jones finished 19th with a time of 21:56.
Louisville: Louisville finished seventh at the 2009 BIG EAST Cross Country Championships. Tarah McKay was the team's top placewinner, earning her fourth-straight All-BIG EAST honor. Returning to the scene this year from last year's squad are Kim Grieshaber and Emily Borsare. Grieshaber, the top women's runner this season, has three top-10 finishes, including a first-place finish at the season-opener. She took 25th last season. Borsare and newcomer Monica Hernandez have rounded out the top three finishers in the four races this season.
Marquette: Marquette is coming off a 37th-place finish at Pre-Nationals on Oct. 16. Senior Olivia Johnson, who finished 59th at the 2009 BIG EAST Championships, paced the Golden Eagles with a time of 21:51.13 to finish 119th. Marquette lost its two top performers from last year’s Championships in Jayne Grebinski and Anna Webber. Senior Laurie Dalrymple returns after a 52nd-place showing a year ago. The Golden Eagles finished eighth in 2009.
Notre Dame: The Irish lost two of their top three performers from the 2009 BIG EAST Championships, with Lindsey Ferguson (10th place) and Beth Tacl (36th) both graduating. Sophomore Jessica Rydberg is the top-returner to the Championships after finishing 33rd with a time of 22:24. Notre Dame also hopes for a solid performance from freshman Meg Ryan, who was named BIG EAST Athlete of the Week earlier this year, and is coming off a 92nd-place finish at Pre-Nationals. Senior Erica Watson was the top-finisher at Pre-Nationals, taking 64th.
Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh looks to improve upon its 16th-place finish last year and returns top-finisher Miya Johnson who placed 79th in 2009. The Panthers last competed at the Penn State National where they finished 28th. Freshman Susannah Feinstein was the top performer for Pittsburgh. Junior Rachel Hess also returns after placing 108th a year ago with a time of 26:51.
Providence: Providence looks to improve on its fifth-place finish in 2009 at the BIG EAST Championships returning top finisher sophomore Shelby Greany. Greany was a top 10 finisher at the Championships last year, crossing the line in 21:36 as a freshman. She comes in having finished sixth in the Friars last meet at Pre-Nationals in Terre, Haute, Ind., on Oct. 16. Junior Hannah Davidson, who was the second Friar to finish at the BIG EAST Championships last year in 18th, also had a great performance at Pre-Nationals with a 16th-place finish. Providence also looks to junior Mary Kate Champagne for a strong contribution this weekend, after coming in 50th in 2009. The team is ranked No. 13 in the country entering the weekend.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights return the team’s top performer from the 2009 BIG EAST Championships in junior Kelly Flannigan. Flannigan took 55th in a time of 23:22 last year. Rutgers also has a group of strong sophomores in Lindsay Bertulis, Jennifer Spitzer and Victoria Pentecorvo all competing in this year’s Championships. The group all competed last year, with Bertulis finishing 78th in 2009.
St. John’s: In their last meet, the Red Storm defeated Fordham and Hofstra to take first place in the annual STJ Fall Festival. Junior Samantha Meyerhoff led the team with a career-best time of 14:25. She was followed by junior Nicole Cocozza, junior Aryon Trujillo, senior Sarah Sudbury and freshman Chelsea Trant who all finished in the top 10 overall. Meyerhoff did not compete at the Championships last season, but has consistently been the top-performer for St. John’s this season. Cocozza is the squad’s top returning performer from the 2009 Championships, crossing the line in 86th as the team finished in 14th.
Seton Hall: Sophomore Hughnique Rolle leads the Pirates into Jamesville after a strong regular season. Rolle helped Seton Hall to an eighth-place finish at the Leopard Invitational where she finished 18th. She also had a top-10 finish at the Asics/Embry Riddle Classic, placing seventh. Senior KeAira Dickerson is the top returning performer from the 2009 BIG EAST Championships, placing 92nd a year ago with a time of 25:11.
USF: A trio of juniors leads the Bulls into the BIG EAST Championships this weekend in Nicole Rozario, Allie Prendergast and Yasmin Smith. The three juniors were the top three finishers for the Bulls at the 2009 BIG EAST Championships, and have consistently been at the top of the leaderboard for USF this season. Rozario placed 43rd a year ago, and had several top 10 finishes this season, including coming in fifth at the FSU Invitational on Oct. 8. Smith notched 59th at the Penn State National on Oct. 16 and was 64th at the BIG EAST Championships in 2009. Prendergast came in 64th in 2009 and was the second Bull to cross the finish line.
Syracuse: Syracuse hosts its first BIG EAST championship this year. The Orange enter the race ranked seventh in the nation and first in the Northeast region according to the USTFCCCA. Last year, then-junior Katie Hursey finished eighth to lead Syracuse with a time of 21:30. She will look to help the team improve on its program-best third-place finish in 2009.
Villanova: The No. 1 ranked Villanova Wildcats enter the BIG EAST Championships with a target on their backs. The Wildcats won their second straight BIG EAST title in 2009 and went on to win the 2009 NCAA Championship. The squad has lived up to its preseason No. 1 ranking, placing first in each of its meets this season. The Wildcats have a very strong squad back for this year’s Championship as the team looks for a three-peat. Junior Sheila Reid and senior Amanda Marino had a one-two finish a year ago and are both back for the Wildcats this season. Reid is coming off a first-place finish at the Penn State National on Oct. 16, while Marino came in second.
West Virginia: West Virginia is coming off an impressive sixth-place finish at the Penn State National amongst some of the nation's top cross country programs on Oct. 15. WVU had its best showing at the Penn State National, as runners 1-5 finished within 1:18 of each other. The Mountaineers have not placed lower than sixth place in the four meets this season. The team placed first at the WVU Invitational, third at the BIG EAST Preview, second at the Notre Dame Invitational and sixth at the Penn State National. Expected to lead the team is senior Maria Dalzot, juniors Sarah-Anne Brault and Ahna Lewis and sophomore Katie Gillespie. Dalzot’s best finish was 16th at the BIG EAST Preview, while Brault had a second-place finish at the Notre Dame Invitational and Lewis took 36th at the Penn State National. Gillespie has been the strongest performer, finishing first in both the BIG EAST Preview and Notre Dame Invitational.