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Somerset, NJ -- Quinnipiac's dominance over the last half decade in the sport of women's cross country was more than enough to convince Northeast Conference (NEC) head coaches to cast their preseason ballots in favor of the Bobcats. Quinnipiac emerged as the clear favorite to capture a sixth consecutive title, tallying 10 first-place votes. Sacred Heart, the NEC runner-up in each of the past two seasons, took the second spot with two first place nods, with Monmouth and Saint Francis (PA) behind in third and fourth. Mount St. Mary's rounded out the top five, with Central Connecticut State and Bryant tabbed sixth and seventh, respectively. Staking claim to eighth was Robert Morris, followed by Long Island in ninth. Finishing off the 12-team field were Farleigh Dickinson, Wagner and St. Francis (NY).
Under the guidance of NEC Coach of the Year Carolyn Martin, Quinnipiac enters the upcoming season with a squad equal parts talent and experience. The returning contingent includes three-of-four runners who finished in the top-10 at the 2009 NEC meet. Setting the pace for the Bobcats is junior Morgan Roche (Clifton Park, NY/Shendehowa). She advanced from a fourth-place finish in her rookie campaign to third (18:15) as a sophomore. In addition to All-Conference recognition, the former NEC Freshmen of the Year earned a trio of top three finishes during the regular season and garnered a 52
2010 Northeast Conference
Women's Cross Country
Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Quinnipiac (10)
2. Sacred Heart (2)
4. Saint Francis (PA)
5. Mount St. Mary's
6. Central Connecticut State
8. Robert Morris
9. Long Island
10. Fairleigh Dickinson
12. St. Francis (NY)
First place votes in parentheses ( ).
nd-place showing at the NCAA Northeast Regional. Sophomore Becca White (Natick, MA/Natick)
followed close behind Roche at the NEC Championship, locking up fourth place in 18:18. She ended her freshman season by earning All-Conference distinction and took home four NEC Rookie of the Week honors, to go along with an individual victory at the Quinnipiac Invitational. Returning senior Kristen Stevens (Succasunna, NJ/Roxbury)
will attempt to make a lasting impact in her final season. After sitting out 2008 with an injury, Stevens, atwo-time NEC individual champion and All-Conference honoree, battled back to claim sixth place a year ago, clocking in at 18:35 for the 5K course. Rounding out Quinnipiac's top-15 harriers at last year's league championship are the junior duo of Julie Lanning (Victor, NY/Victor)
, who posted a time of 18:56 for 11th place and an All-Conference nod,
and Katie Kelly (Campbell Hall, NY/Washingtonville)
, who checked in at 19:13 for 15th place.
Sacred Heart is on a quest to break the Bobcat streak and take home its first league crown since 2005. The Pioneers, led by longtime head coach Christian Morrison, are anchored by 2009 NEC individual champion Kimberly DeLoreto (Hillsdale, NY/Pascack Hills). The senior brought home NEC Outstanding Performer honors after outlasting the 100-competitor field and claiming first in 17:58, the only competitor to break the 18-minute mark. DeLoreto was a three-time NEC Athlete of the Week, a third-place finisher at the ECAC Championships and the first Sacred Heart runner to earn All-New England, All-NEC and All-East honors twice in her career. Fellow All-Conference performer Olivia Civardi (Brightwaters NY/Bay Shore) looks to break through the top-10 after a 14th-place finish (19:10) as a freshman in 2009. Sacred Heart will also be boosted by the return of Mekenzie Krause (Bennington, VT/Mt. Anthony Union) and Brittany Llobell(West Sayville, NY/Sayville). The junior duo sat out last season after finishing sixth and ninth, respectively, at the 2008 NEC Championship.
After three consecutive years on the NEC medal stand, including last year's third-place showing, Monmouth prepares to chase the team gold which has eluded them since 2000. Despite losing his fifth-place finisher, Cailin Lynam, head coach Joe Compagni will hope to keep momentum going by turning to a pair of New Jersey natives in Courtney Spratford (Calif, NJ/Vorhees) and Christine Altland (Hazlet, NJ/Raritan). The senior duo will set out to climb the ranks after placing 18th and 19th at last season's league championship. The Hawk runners crossed the tape only two seconds apart at 19:26 and 19:28. During the season, Altland also registered an NEC Athlete of the Week nod for her 15th place effort at the Princeton Invitational.
Before Quinnipiac's five-year winning streak began, the harriers from Saint Francis (PA) held the NEC crown for four straight years (2001-04). In each of the past two seasons head coach Gordon Thomson and the Red Flash secured fourth-place finishes in the league's postseason race. All-Conference junior Sarah Grossi (Canonsburg, PA/Canon McMillan) will look to shave time from her 10th place conference finish (18:55) from a year ago. Grossi will be joined by lone senior Danielle Williams (Altoona, PA/Bishop Guilfoyle), who finished 30th with a 20:01 at the conference meet.
Mount St. Mary's and head coach Jay Phillips made the biggest jump in the conference last season with a three-spot improvement from its eighth-place showing at the 2008 NEC Championship. The ascent to fifth place was due in large part to the performance of newcomer Megan Kinsella (Allentown, PA/Allentown Central Catholic). The sophomore was timed in 18:14 to grab second overall en-route to NEC Freshman of the Year accolades. The young team also sports sophomore Kathryn Franke (Glen Arm, MD/Loch Raven), who clocked 19:56 for 28th place last season.
Following a sixth-place finish at last year's NEC meet, Central Connecticut State hopes to make strides under the direction of new coach Eric Blake, who led the men's team to the NEC cross country title in his first year at the helm. Veteran Katherine Bossardet (Gales Ferry, CT/Leyard) is the top returning harrier for the Blue Devils. The senior landed a place on the All-Conference team by running a 19:01, good for 12th place, at the 2009 league championship.
After finishing ninth in its inaugural year as a Division I program, Bryant climbed one spot to eighth at the 2009 NEC Championship. Under the direction of head coach and three-time Irish National Champion Stephanie Reilly, compatriot Deirdre Doyle (Carlow, Ireland) represented the Bulldogs well with her seventh-place finish (18:43) last fall. The All-Conference sophomore collected two NEC Rookie of the Week honors after besting the field at the Ted Owens Invitational and placing fourth at the Albany Invitational.
Under the guidance of heard coach Michael Smith, a young Robert Morris squad will count on sophomore Kristie Domis (Pittsburgh, PA/Baldwin) to help the Colonials top their seventh place performance at last year's NEC meet. The sophomore slipped into the 20th spot with a time of 19:28, while senior Jessica Duffell (Punxsutawney, PA/Punxsutawney) crossed the tape in 19:55 for 27th place. Junior Debra Ostrander (Denton, MD/North Caroline), who placed 40th in 20:18, will also contribute to the distance contingent.
Long Island will seek to improve on its ninth-place finish from the 2009 NEC race, despite losing All-Conference honoree Selina Munoz. Head coach Julia Sandiford, a former seven-time NCAA All-American, will rely on the experience and leadership of senior Robin Renahan (Coram, NY/Newfield), one of the Blackbirds' top returning runners.
Farleigh Dickinson finished the 2009 season with a tenth-place showing at the NEC Championship. Head coach Sharlene Milwood-Lee will count on junior Lena Kraus (Darmstadt, Germany/Caldeonia), who stormed home in 19:47 to snag 25th place last fall.
Under head coach Joe Stasi, Wagner will look to turn things around behind sophomore Kelly Dennis (Staten Island, NY/St. John Villa) and junior Taylor Fredrickson (Staten Island, NY/Tottenville).
St. Francis (NY) head coach Kyle Brown is hopeful veteran leadership can help raise the bar in 2010. Senior Atoya Webb (Queens, NY/Jamaica) and junior Alexandra De La Cruz (Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Ford) are two of the team's top returnees.
The 2010 Northeast Conference Women's Cross Country Championship will take place at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT on October 30. The Blue Devils will serve as meet host.