Aug. 28, 2012
STORRS, Conn. - Coming into the 2012 Cross Country season, the UConn women want to follow up their first ever national ranking in 2011 with another program first as they will try to stamp their ticket to the NCAA Championships as a team.
A strong class of incoming freshmen complimented by an accomplished group of upper classmen, the team is looking to improve on their 7th place finish at the NCAA Northeast Region. The Huskies have been ranked 6th in the Northeast Region in the 2012 preseason rankings.
“It’s a very exciting mix of upperclassmen and newcomers to the squad this year and I’m really looking forward to watching them develop and gel as a team throughout season. I think it’s a pretty special group and one that is ready to make another step forward as a program,” stated cross country head coach Andrea Grove-McDonough.
The team will rely heavily on the five returners from last season’s nationally ranked squad. Co-captain and two-time NCAA individual qualifier Lauren Sara (Stratford, Conn.), will be expected to lead the team and have company up front this season from a number of experienced upperclassmen. Sophomore Lindsay Crevoiserat (Glastonbury, Conn.), who finished in 9th place in the 3,000m at the IAAF 2012 World Junior Championships in Barcelona Spain this summer, is going to give the team more strength and depth at the front of races.
“Lindsay and Lauren should really be able to give us a tremendous 1-2 punch – with the ability of junior Allison Lasnicki or senior co-captain Shauna McNiff to step in and do the same,” Grove-McDonough said.
Allison Lasnicki (Canastota, N.Y.) had a tremendous outdoor campaign for the Huskies running a PR 16:33 for 5k and Grove-McDonough refers to her as “the heart and soul of the group.” Senior Shauna McNiff, the defending Indoor ECAC and New England 3,000m Champion, has always been a strong leader on and off the course in cross country and is expected to be back to full strength after battling illness during the 2012 outdoor season. Adding depth to that group will be track and field All-American junior Brigette Mania (Flemington, N.J.) a consistent performer in cross country.
They will be joined by strong seniors Allison Cooper (Portland, Conn.) and Kimberly Moran (Hingham, Mass.), both of whom have championship experience in cross country. Looking to break into that group will be senior Jeanne Theleen (Southbury, Conn.), junior Stephanie Ellis (Gardner, Mass.) and sophomore Terra Briody (Ridgefield, Conn.).
“We have any number of talented athletes who are capable of running with Lauren this season, and that’s what we need to really get to the next level,” Grove-McDonough continued. “We don’t want to just sit back and be happy with getting into the national rankings every now and then, we want to compete at the National Championships, not just this season but year after year.”
New to the mix will be a young but experienced group of freshman. Leading the freshman class will be Canadian National 800m Junior Champion Julia Zrinyi (Winnipeg, Manitoba). Zrinyi, also a semi-finalist at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships this summer in Barcelona Spain boasts an impressive 800m PR of 2:04.38.
Other incoming Huskies include Emily Durgin (Portland, Maine) a two time Footlocker Finalist along with three state champions being added to the mix with Jennifer Ross (Lyme, Conn.), Abigail Mace (Maranacook, Maine), and Laura Williamson (Princeton, Mass.). Also joining the Huskies is cross country specialist Lily D’Agostino (Topsfield, Mass.), Tolland mid-distance specialist Emily Howard (Tolland, Conn.) and mid-distance standout Katherine Vodopia (Flemington, N.J.) who finished 2nd at the New Jersey Meet of Champions in the 800m.
“With all the experience we now have and the character and heart of this year’s squad, and maybe a little bit better luck than we ran into last season, I believe we will be on the starting line in Louisville come November,” Grove-McDonough finished.
The Huskies will start the season at the Dartmouth Invitational on September 8 in Hanover, N.H.