Jan. 9, 2013
STORRS, Conn.- The University of Connecticut women’s track and field team is set to open the 2013 campaign on Saturday at the Armory Invite in New York. The first event is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. with the finals event starting at 9:55 p.m.
The 2012 season was a historic one for the Husky women’s track and field program with a total of nine All-America accolades and nine UConn broken records. While the UConn squad excelled in competition, they were most importantly recognized as a Division I All-Academic team and had five individuals named to the 2012 USTFCCCA Division I All-Academic Team.
Connecticut sent six student-athletes to the 2012 Indoor NCAA Championships and two to the 2012 Outdoor NCAA Championships compiling nine All-American honors. Senior Heather Wilson, nominated for the NCAA Woman of the Year, earned three All-America nods during her final campaign donning her UConn garb as she finished fifth in the indoor 800 and eighth in the indoor DMR for two First Team awards, while adding a Second Team seat after finishing 11th in the outdoor 800m. Joining Wilson on the indoor First Team DMR lineup was junior Brigitte Mania, sophomore Celina Emerson and freshman Lindsay Crevoiserat. UConn saw two Huskies grab All-American titles in Boise in the high jump with sophomore Natasha McLaren taking third place (First Team) and junior Ilva Bikanova in 11th (Second Team). The final Husky of the 2012 campaign taking home hardware was four-time All-American Victoria Flowers who finished 15th in the hammer for a Second Team seat at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
As a team, the Huskies collected their seventh consecutive indoor New England Championship crown with 14 individuals reaching the finals. Connecticut finished sixth at the indoor BIG EAST Championships and fourth at the ECAC Championships. Despite Wilson and Crevoiserat claiming first place at the outdoor ECAC Championships, the Huskies took home the silver medal for the second consecutive year. While the team posted a ninth place finish at the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships the team had two Huskies capture conference titles in their respective events.
2013 Season Preview:
Two-time All-American senior Brigitte Mania will lead the distance squad this season. Last season, she led off the Distance Medley Relay at the NCAA Championships propelling the team to First Team All-American status with an eighth place finish. The coaching staff will look to Mania as a major championship scorer with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the 800 in addition to leading the DMR squad.
Lindsay Crevoiserat had an outstanding freshman campaign with a third place finish at the BIG EAST Indoor Championships in the 3,000m and ran a personal best of 9:21 in winning the Outdoor ECAC Championships. Crevoiserat was the anchor leg of the All-American DMR team that finished eighth at the indoor NCAA Championship. Crevoiserat, holding the school record in the mile and 3,000m, will look to build on last year going for a BIG EAST Championships qualifying for the NCAA Championship.
Julia Zrinyi comes to UConn as one of the most accomplished freshman in program history. She has represented her native Canada at both the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille, France, and the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain running the 800m at both events. She will be a strong addition to the squad and will add to the expectations of a DMR that looks to make its way to the podium at the indoor NCAA championships in 2013.
Lauren Sara is coming off a great cross country campaign and after redshirting both the indoor and outdoor season in 2012, will immediately make an impact in the distance events. She will be a strong contender for an indoor BIG EAST title in both the 3,000m and 5,000m, while her presence during the outdoor campaign will be a big boost with the goal of returning to the outdoor NCAA Championships in the 10,000m.
Coming off a sensational cross country season, Allison Lasnicki will be a major piece of the distance puzzle. Big things are expected from Lasnicki in the indoor 3,000m and 5,000m as well as the outdoor 10,000m
Shauna McNiff is expected to continue where she left off as a major contributor and provide major points in both indoor and outdoor track. Shauna will also contend for a podium place in the BIG EAST distance events and has designs on qualifying for the NCAA indoor and outdoor Championships.
The Huskies have great depth in Stephanie Ellis and Allison Cooper. Additionally, the UConn staff is looking forward to a strong freshman class of distance and mid-distance runners to contribute to Connecticut’s strong relays and provide additional scoring opportunities in the 800, 1,000 and the mile.
Sprints and Hurdles
The Huskies return a dynamic group of sprinters for the 2013 campaign with two-time All-American Celina Emerson leading the way. Joining Emerson will be two NCAA qualifiers in senior Ana Groff and junior Madalayne Smith.
The junior class will also bring experience in the more technical event sprint hurdles with Madalayne Smith and Chantal Scott. Smith, a NCAA outdoor qualifier in 2012, will try to establish herself as one of the nation’s best sprint hurdlers. The depth in the sprint hurdles will come from three newcomers Sarah Bowens, Odrine Belot and Briana Pulido. Belot and Pulido will both have an immediate impact in short sprints and hurdle events, while Bowens will mainly focus on the short sprint hurdles. The remaining two newcomers that will help the Huskies in 2013 will be Deysha Smith-Jenkins and Dominique Smalls. Once again the coaching staff is confident that this talented group of sprinters will not only leave their mark on the BIG EAST but will also leave it on the national stage.
Emerson, who ran the 400m leg on the nation’s eighth fastest DMR team at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Boise, ID, also added to her resume in 2012 BIG EAST 400m Outdoor Champion. Emerson has now established herself as one of the nation’s best 400m runner and is looking for her first All-American individual status. Groff has also moved herself to the national level in 2012 and is looking forward to more success in 2013 at the 800m in both the conference and at the national level.
A conference runner-up in the 400m is Tiffany Daley who also ran the first leg on a school record breaking 4x400m relay team at the ECAC Outdoor Championships is now ready to become a national level 400m runner. To provide depth in the long sprints will be a pair of sophomores, Nyanka Joseph and Brianna Allen, that had an immediate impact in our conference championships in 2012. Allen anchors the 4x400m relay team who took third place finish while setting a new program record at the BIG EAST Indoor Championship. During the outdoor season, Allen also ran on a school record breaking 4x400m relay team at the ECAC Outdoor Championships and will now look to establish herself as one of the top sprinters in the east. The newcomer for the long sprint is Paris Taft. She will be looking to contribute in the 400, 500, 800 and relays for the Huskies in 2013.
There have been 15 All-America honors in the high jump with two of those honorees returning members of the team. Natasha McLaren made the indoor season a sweep for the UConn high jumpers as she won both the New England and ECAC indoor titles. Add the outstanding effort in placing third at NCAA Indoor Nationals to her portfolio and the tandem could once again warrant national elite status. McLaren was also the only member of the team to qualify for the Olympic Trials where she gained invaluable experience. Junior Ilva Bikanova took home her second NCAA Second Team All-American title during the indoor season along with the BIG EAST Championship title. Senior, Jasmine Cribb, a former Penn Relay College Division champion and record holder at 5’ 11 ¼”, has been diligent in working at the technical aspects of the event to position herself as a part of potentially the finest group of vertical jumpers in the country.
The pole vault will rely on freshman Lauren O’Connell, runner-up at the high school New England Championships. Gabby Attanasio will add to the group looking to gain equal status to other areas.
Four-time All-American Victoria Flowers will present a formidable challenge to other national level throwers as she concludes her redshirt year with the highest aspirations of being a NCAA Champion. Her runner-up status at indoor nationals in 2010 brought her name to the forefront. Her desire to leave a legacy comparable to or beyond the outstanding performances of the elite UConn performers should be enough motivation to distinguish her as one of the most significant student-athletes in UConn history.
In 2011, Flowers threw the indoor implement 72’ 11 ½” for her third All-American weight throw title. In the same year, she shattered the all-time New England meet records and overall records in the shot put and weight throw, 53’ 5” and 68’ 9”, respectively. Joining Flowers will be freshman eligible Megan Chapman, a former Connecticut and New England high school champion in the discus.
It has been awhile since three-time Heptathlon All-American Terry Roy and Angela Corson - BIG EAST, ECAC, and New England Champion – competed at championship levels in the multi-events. The void seems to be filled with the emergence of transfer student Saija Bikanova.
In her first year of collegiate track she will be looked upon to score at the BIG EAST level. Classmate Briana Pulido will partner with her as she gains experience in the all-encompassing event.
Senior captain Brittany Power leads a young corps of jumpers in the long and triple jumps. Power’s preseason progress continues to point towards the goal of scoring at championship meets. High school talents Melodee Riley, Odrine Belot and Sarah Bowens will be counted upon to address the needs in this area. All were high school All-Americans with triple jumper Riley placing fourth at the outdoor Nike championships, Bowens runner-up in the long jump at the indoor Nike championships as a junior, and Belot a five-time All-American in the shuttle hurdle relays. As multiple state champions, the future seems secure but the question will be their adjustment to this year’s demands.