By SAM ROGERS
With the America East Championship looming in a few weeks, the Wildcats need to be in top form. On October 17, the women’s cross-country team travelled to Louisville, Kentucky, for the NCAA Pre Nationals. In a field of 45 colleges from around the country, the Wildcats placed 21st overall.
The Wildcats were led by senior Laura Rose Donegan, who she placed 23rd overall with a time of 20 minutes and 29.6 seconds. Donegan, who was seeded 54th prior to the meet finals, jumped 31 spots for her top-25 finish.
“I was really happy the way Laura Rose Donegan ran today” head coach Robert Hoppler said. As the championship meets approach Hoppler thinks Donegan is running at her best. “She was able to take some big steps in her cross-country running and I’m excited for her top-25 finish…I think [her top 25 finish] really sets her up for the championship part of the season.”
The Wildcats solid performance may have been lead by Donegan, but the whole Wildcat team raced well. Senior Amber Short finished the 6-kilometer race in 21:12.6 after finishing 49 spots better than her pre-meet seeding. Senior Samantha Blais placed 136th overall, senior Brianna Boden finished in 147th despite being seeded 193rd, and senior Alex Giese finished 280th.
Senior leadership prevailed this weekend but the younger members of the team also ran well. Freshman Shannon Murdock finished at 21:42.9, which set her up for a 195th-place finish. Junior Sarah Kerian finished in the 242nd spot with a time of 22:02.2
“The rest of the team ran strong and was very competitive,” Hoppler said in regards to his Wildcats racing as a team. “Its good to be in the top half of the field.”
The Wildcats can’t stop working after a great trip down to Louisville. They have one more regular season meet against Central Connecticut State University on Oct. 23. The America East championship is the following weekend, Oct. 31, at Stony Brook University.
A tough facet of cross-country running is having to sit on the bus for the long trips to CCSU, Stony Brook and Louisville, then to get off and run a race. Hoppler isn’t concerned about his team’s ability to get off a bus and run well, though.
“Travelling is part of the deal when it comes to racing at a high level,” he said. The team does not have much choice, if it hopes to maintain its high level of competition; the team does not have another home meet on the schedule.
“Overall the trip went well and we’re excited for tournament season,” Hoppler said, summing up the Wildcats performance.
The Wildcats are running well at the right time, and after a strong finish at the Pre Nationals, the team should have some the confidence to make strides towards its third consecutive America East championship. Further down the road, the Wildcats will return to E.P. Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville for the NCAA Championships.
Women place 21st at NCAA Pre Nationals
By SAM ROGERS