In the 31-year history of the NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country Championship, a BIG EAST team has taken the team title 11 times. Villanova won six straight NCAA Women’s Cross Country Championships from 1989-1994 under the direction of head coach Marty Stern. Villanova won in 1998, Providence took the title in 1995 and Georgetown won its first in 2011.
At least one BIG EAST team has finished in the top-10 at 25 of the 31 NCAA Championships. Of the 25 NCAA Championship appearances, at least three BIG EAST teams have finished top-10 at the national championship 14 times. In 2002 and 2010, four teams finished in the top-10. Georgetown has recorded 18 top-10 finishes, to lead six schools: Providence (17), Villanova (16), Notre Dame (5) and Syracuse (1). Current BIG EAST member institutions have combined for 56 top-10 appearances all-time.
The Georgetown women’s team is looking to defend its 2011 NCAA title. The Hoyas scored 162 points to beat Washington last year (170 points). The BIG EAST has long been the site of a national rivalry between Villanova and Georgetown in women’s cross country. Prior to the Hoyas winning the national championship last year, the Wildcats won back to back national titles in 2009 and 2010. Between 2008 and 2010, BIG EAST Women’s Cross Country standouts earned 27 individual All-America honors.
Sheila Reid’s 2011 individual NCAA Championship marked the tenth BIG EAST women’s cross country runner to win the national championship. The Wildcats have won nine of the 10. Along with six straight team national champions from 1989-1994, Villanova had the individual champion during the same period of time. Providence’s Kim Smith won the 2004 NCAA Women’s Cross Country Championship. Villanova leads all-time in NCAA team championships and individual championships with nine each. Vicky Huber, the 1989 NCAA Champion from Villanova, holds the 5K NCAA Championship record at 15:59.86. The NCAA Division I Women’s Cross Country race was changed from a 5K to a 6K run in 2000.
Reid and Georgetown’s Emily Infeld went head to head in national competition for the first time in 2009. Infeld finished eighth and Reid came in 13th place in their sophomore seasons at the 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Reid was the individual NCAA Champion in 2010, the eighth for Villanova in program history. Georgetown finished fourth at the 2010 NCAA Championships, with Infeld finishing second to Reid. Georgetown won the 2011 title while Reid took the individual championship. Infeld and Reid share six cross country All-America honors and three team NCAA Championships.
BIG EAST Women’s Cross Country nears the 2012 NCAA Cross Country Championships with four nationally ranked teams. 2011 NCAA Cross Country Champion Georgetown ranks sixth, followed by No. 16 Notre Dame, No. 24 Villanova and No. 28 Providence.
This year’s NCAA Cross Country Championships will be at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 17. Race times are to be determined.