Shauna McNiff and the cross country team open 2011 season at CCSU Blue Devil Invite
Sept. 1, 2011
STORRS, Conn. - The University of Connecticut women's cross country team is set to begin the 2011 season on Friday, September 2, at the CCSU Blue Devil Invite at Stanley Quarter Park in New Britain, Conn. UConn enters the season ranked 10th the Northeast Region, which has five nationally ranked schools, in the USTFCCCA 2011 preseason regional rankings.
The Huskies are coming off of their most successful season after finishing seventh in the BIG EAST Championships and having one runner qualify for the NCAA Championships. UConn returns 15 runners from last year's program and welcomes three newcomers.
Sophomore Lauren Sara (Stratford, Conn.) had a stellar freshman show as she was UConn's top finisher at the BIG EAST Championships, placing 30th in 22:06. Additionally, Sara was the top Husky finisher at the NCAA Northeast Regionals with a 21:19 time and 41st place finish.
"I expect Lauren to be our leader this season and be the runner that the team feeds off of," Grove-Mcdonough said. "She has come into the season in incredible shape and is leaps and bounds ahead of where she was at this point last year. I am excited to see what Lauren can do because the sky is the limit for her."
Other top returners for the Huskies include senior captains Heather Wilson (Homer, N.Y.) and Courtney Dinnan (Hamden, Conn.), junior Shauna McNiff (Hingham, Mass.), junior Brigitte Mania (Flemington, N.J.) and sophomore Allison Lasnicki (Canastota, N.Y.).
"The mood of this team is the most focused I have seen it since I arrived on campus in 2008. They have set their goals high as a team and if we stay healthy I have no doubt they can accomplish the goals set."
Head Coach Andrea Grove-McDonough
"Shauna always comes into the season very prepared and this season is no exception. She has looked every bit the upperclassmen that she is and will be an important part of our team's success this year," Grove McDonough stated about McNiff, a 2010 NCAA Regional Qualifier.
Wilson is an indoor track NCAA All-American for the 800m and will play a large role for this year's cross country squad. Wilson placed 83rd in last year's NCAA Northeast Regionals (21:57) and 51st at the BIG EAST Championships (22:59).
Key newcomers for the 2011 Huskies include track and field standout senior Meghan Cunningham (Simsbury, Conn.) and incoming freshman Lindsay Crevoiserat (Glastonbury, Conn.). Cunningham, a four year member of UConn's women soccer team, was a 2010 NCAA Championship Qualifier and BIG EAST Champion in the 3,000m steeplechase.
"I expect Meghan to have a big impact on the cross country team," said Grove-McDonough. "She is a fifth year senior who has been to the highest levels of NCAA competition on the track side which gives her the maturity and big meet experience." Crevoiserat comes to UConn after being one of the mostly highly recruited high school seniors in the country. She holds personal bests of 4:46.33 in the mile, 9:41.99 for 3,000m and 16:51.88 for the 5,000m.
"Lindsay has had such a seamless transition from high school to college that it's easy to forget she is only a freshman and only in her second week on campus. She is the kind of recruit that immediately elevates a team and that is exactly the kind of impact I see her having for us," Grove-McDonough added.
Kicking off the 2011 season this Friday, September 2, at the CCSU Blue Devil Invite, the Huskies look to continue to break program bests. The Huskies are scheduled to compete in seven meets this season prior to the BIG EST Championships on October 29.
"Our opening meet is a great opportunity for the team to put the jerseys on for the first time and work on team tactics. We will be looking to have a very tight time gap between our first and fifth runners. My goal for this meet is to shake off the cobwebs and get off campus for something a bit more fun," finished Grove-McDonough.