Jan. 13, 2012
STORRS, Conn.-The University of Connecticut women’s track and field team is set to begin the 2012 indoor season when they travel to New York, N.Y. for the Armory Invite. The Huskies were recently ranked as the No. 20 team in the nation in the USTFCCCA preseason rankings. It marked the first time that the Huskies were ranked in preseason.
“It's time to compete . Coming off Holiday breaks, finals and double sessions since the first of the year, we need to get on the competitive side of track,” stated Head Coach Bill Morgan. “Combine an extended training period with an opening meet at a great Armory venue and midseason performances should be possible. There really isn't a 'build up' to conference, we should be and need to be ready when we set our foot on the track – I know the team is anticipating an exciting start. Although some mid and distance event athletes are competing in 'off' events, sprinters and jumpers are specific event ready looking to post their initial marks for the season.”
UConn concluded the 2011 indoor season taking home the ECAC and New England Championship crowns. In addition to the two titles, the Huskies had five athletes named All-Americans with four of them competing in the indoor season as senior Victoria Flowers will redshirt for the 2012 indoor season.
“I would anticipate our four entered All-Americans will make a strong statement, while several others should compete at a high level. Two-time All-American Heather Wilson, and All-Americans Brigitte Mania, Celina Emerson and Ilva Bikanova will have Natasha McLaren (high jump), Danielle Lyte (short sprints), Lindsay Crevoiserat (distance) alongside as well as a group looking to impress,” finished Morgan. “In the end, it's all preparation for the championships.”
Below is a preview of all events for the upcoming season, including middle distance, multi events, jumps, throws, sprints & hurdles and distance.
ON THE TRACK...
Senior two-time All-American Heather Wilson will lead the 2012 Huskies distance squad. Wilson, the 800m BIG EAST Champion a year ago, finished fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships, running a school-record 2:05.17. Wilson also anchored the distance medley relay team that qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships in another school-record time of 10:59.98.
Junior All-American Brigitte Mania, an NCAA Championship qualifier during the outdoor season and a scorer at the BIG EAST Championships indoors and outdoors, will join Wilson to lead the mid-distance group for the Huskies. Mania also ran on the school-record distance medley relay and ran 2:05.84 for 800m outdoors.
Senior Meghan Cunningham qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 3000mST, running a 10:11.57 to qualify. Cunningham also captured the BIG EAST title in the 3000mST, and recorded a personal best of 4:22.42 in the 1500m.
Sophomore Lauren Sara, an NCAA Qualifier and school-record holder at 10,000m (33:51.21) will look to build on a stellar freshman campaign that saw her compete at the NCAA Championships as the lone freshman in the 10,000m.
Junior Shauna McNiff will look to score team points at the BIG EAST Championships this year, finishing 9th in the 3000m a year ago. McNiff also ran a personal best of 16:40.26 for 5000m to qualify for the NCAA East Regional Championships.
Freshman Lindsay Crevoiserat enters UConn as one of the most decorated girls high school runners in the country. Crevoiserat holds personal bests of 4:46 for one mile, 9:40 for 3000m, and 16:50 for 5000m. After earning All-Region honors in cross country, Crevoiserat will look to contribute to the Huskies on the track.
The Huskies distance squad will also be relied upon to provide team points in the distance medley relay during the indoor season, as well as the 4x800m relay indoors and outdoors. Sophomore Allison Lasnicki and junior Allison Cooper, a BIG EAST qualifier at 1500m, will look to improve and add depth to the Huskies distance core.
Sprints and Hurdles
With the graduation of All-American Trisha-Ann Hawthorne, the most decorated athlete in UConn track history, Coach Terrelonge and the Huskies will look to a talented group of young sprinters. Leading the way will be Celina Emerson (Newark, DE), who was an All-American on the record setting Indoor Distance Medley and will look to elevate her teammates to the national level.
With the graduation of 16-time BIG EAST Champion Trisha-Ann Hawthorne, the Huskies will turn to a young and relatively inexperienced group in the short sprints. Danielle Lyte (Burlington, ON), 2009 BIG EAST and ECAC finalist, will provide veteran leadership and championship experience, while looking to earn All-BIG EAST honors. Junior Kewanna Donaldson (Enfield, CT), a BIG EAST qualifier, will also provide veteran leadership for the short sprints group. Madalayne Smith (Saratoga, Springs, NY), Chantal Scott (Raleigh, N.C.), and Shavon Briscoe (Brandywine, MD) will compete in the 100m and 400m hurdles, the most technical event of the short sprints. Smith, a two-time BIG EAST finalist, will look to be at the top of the conference while making progress towards the national level in 2012. Scott will look to join Smith at the top of the BIG EAST.
Emerson returns not only as an All-American, but was also the New England Indoor Champion at 400m, and recorded the 3rd-fastest 400m time among BIG EAST athletes. Emerson will look to capitalize on her early success and lead a deep group of long sprinters to the next level. Junior Ana Groff (Orlando, FL), an ECAC Champion, Big East Runner-Up, and New England Record Holder in the 500m, turns her focus towards the top of the BIG EAST podium, as well as the challenge of the 800m. Sophomore Imani Sudlow (Tamarc, FL), who took second in ECAC 500m behind Groff, was a BIG EAST finalist in the same event. Sudlow also led off the 4x400m relay team that set a program record while taking 2nd at the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships a year ago. Tiffany Daley (Northborough, Mass.), who ran the anchor leg on the record-setting 4x400m relay team, finished second behind Emerson in the 400m at the New England Indoor Championships. Daley will look for podium finishes at the BIG EAST and ECAC Championships in 2012. Briscoe is the team’s long hurdle specialist who will look to improve her individual performance while continuing to provide valuable depth on relays. Two newcomers with impressive high school resumes should have immediate impact for the Huskies this year. Nyanka Joseph (Brooklyn, N.Y) comes to UConn from one of the nations top prep sprint programs at Medgar Evers College Preparatory, and will look to make an immediate impact at the BIG EAST level. Connecticut high school star Brianna Allen (Windsor, CT) will provide depth to an already strong long sprint group in her first year in Storrs.
ON THE FIELD...
Success in the women’s track and field program has been predicated on outstanding performances in event areas across the board. From sprints and hurdles, to middle and long distance, athletes have turned in top performances on both the regional and national levels. Anchoring those performances has long been the tradition of field event athletes, an area of long-standing excellence for the program.
There have been 13 All-America honors in the high jump at UConn. This group is anchored by five-time All-American Deirdre Mullen, a USA Pan American Team member; Tamika Toppin, 4-time All-American; and recent graduate and three-time All-American Carin Knight. In 2012, another trio of high jumpers will look to join this particular sorority. The 2012 group will be led by junior Ilva Bikanova, an outdoor All-American and ECAC champion. Junior classmate Jasmine Cribb, a former Penn Relay College Division champion and record holder clearing 5’ 11 ¼”, and sophomore Natasha McLaren will be the most recent Huskies to follow in the proud tradition of UConn high jumping.
In the pole vault, junior Angelica Gilsenan has shown great improvement and will look to qualify for post-season meets.
The Huskies will turn to 3-time All-American Victoria Flowers to lead the throws in 2012. Following the graduation of NCAA qualifier and BIG EAST, ECAC, and New England champion Tynisha McMillian, Flowers will be on her own to lead the Huskies. Flowers will, however, redshirt the 2012 indoor season in preparation for a run at this year’s Olympic Trials, but will retain a full year of NCAA eligibility for the 2012-13 school year. Flowers, a runner-up at the 2010 Indoor NCAA Championships in the weight throw, earned All-American honors last year, throwing over 72’ 11 ½” in the weight throw, is in position to fulfill her potential as a nationally elite competitor. At the indoor New England Championships a year ago, Flowers shattered the meet records in both the shot put and weight throw with performances of 53’ 5” and 68’ 9” respectively. This spring, Flowers will take aim at titles in the shot put and hammer throw at the conference, regional, and national levels.
In the javelin, BIG EAST and ECAC qualifier Danika Ham will look to improve in her final season with the Huskies, while aiming for a trip to the NCAA East Regional Championships.
A year ago, junior long jumpers Kristen Brown and Whitney Holder scored points for the Huskies at each of the teams major championship meets. Brown won the long jump at both ECAC and New England Indoor Championships, while Holder finished in the top-3 at both competitions. Brown will take a redshirt year in 2012, and the Huskies will look to Holder to continue to progress. As a top-3 finisher in Big East competition, Holder’s consistency and confidence should allow her to break through during 2012. Holder will aim to challenge the indoor school record of 20’ 6 ¼” (6.25m) held by Husky great Cheryl Brantle, a 1992 All-American, and the outdoor record of 21’ 2 ¼” (6.46m) held by Carol Galloway – the program’s first All-American in 1985.
Junior captain Brittany Power, will provide added depth in both the long and triple jumps. Power’s pre-season progress continues to point towards the goal of scoring at the BIG EAST, New England, and ECAC Championships.
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