Nov. 13, 2011
STORRS, Conn. -The UConn women's cross country team made great strides in 2011 breaking several program milestones, including being nationally ranked for the first time in program history as they captured the 28th seat in the nation's Top 30 on October 18. Despite the Huskies upward climb, the squad's season was concluded on Saturday at the NCAA East Regional Championships with a seventh place finish.
A constant force for UConn the past two years has been sophomore Lauren Sara leading the way for the young group of Huskies. Most recently, Sara took sixth place overall at the Regionals with a time of 20:54.0. Sara was the lead Husky in every 2011 race she competed in. Her sixth place finish earned her a trip to Terre Haute, Ind. for the 2011 NCAA Championships where she will compete as an individual. Sara is the first UConn runner to head to the Championships as an individual since Jillian Sullivan in 2007 and only the fourth in UConn history.
"I was very proud of the way Lauren competed out there today - at one point late in the race she was as far back as 11th with less than a mile to go. But, she rallied from that position to give herself a chance to advance to Nationals. It was a tremendous show of heart to get back in the race and hold off a hard charging Providence runner. That kid showed a lot of determination and toughness because she was feeling it with 1k to go but I knew she wasn't going to let this slip away," stated Head Coach Andrea Grove-McDonough.
At the Regionals, the Huskies jumped six spots in one year going from 13th in 2010 to finishing seventh in 2011. In 2011 UConn had their top five runners finish ahead of 2010's runners, while the Huskies top three competitors this year finished above the Huskies 2010 top runner.
Sara and freshman Lindsay Crevoiserat were both named as 2011 USTFCCCA All-Region Honorees.
Connecticut will lose one of of its top runners to graduation in Heather Wilson, but return a core group of underclassmen, including Sara.
"We honestly ran a very good race and when you sit down with the results, six of the top seven teams were in the National rankings this season and Yale was receiving votes in the latest poll so we lost to some really good teams. We are tremendously disappointed not to be advancing as a team to the NCAA Championships but this group has really been tested this season with freak injuries and accidents right up until the very end. They worked really hard all summer and all season and it's just a shame that we ended our season one step shy of our goal. It also shows what we all knew heading into the weekend - that there were seven teams all capable of being anywhere from 2-8th. It's a bitter pill to swallow seeing all the teams who are getting into the National meet that we have a winning record against but that's the system we have in place and we just fell short at the end. I am tremendously proud of how they all came together and how hard they fought... Connecticut Cross Country isn't going anywhere - we'll be back," finished Grove-McDonough.
Sara will travel to Terre Haute, Ind. to compete as an individual at the 2011 NCAA Championships on Monday, November 21.