2011 X-C Preview: The Big East Women

September 20th, 2011 in Articles by 1 Comment

It’s that time of year: Autumn is upon us, and with it comes cross-country! Having run some of the finest courses in the Big East Conference, Faster Than Forty’s Coach @ has covered the same terrain as many of these harriers. But this year’s Big East Championship will be held on a new, challenging course at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville, KY.

The Big East is averaging about a half-dozen women’s teams qualifying for NCAAs over the last two years. With Georgetown (#1), Providence (#3), and Villanova (#5) in the top five ranked teams, things look just as competitive in 2011. The individuals will feature Villanova’s five-time All-American, Sheila Reid, who won national fame last fall with her NCAA victory over Georgetown’s Emily Infield and Oregon’s Jordan Hassay.

Villanova head coach and former Wildcat track star, Gina Proccacio says, “Georgetown is definitely the team to beat.  They have just about everybody back from a team that competed very well at NCAAs last year.  Providence will be very good also as they have been slowly coming around the last couple years and their team has plenty of NCAA experience.”

Providence’s Ray Treacy agrees.

“Georgetown would have to be the favorites at this point. There are some great teams in the conference. Villanova, West Virginia and Syracuse are top-10 teams as well,” says Treacy. “This year’s UConn team would win most conferences.”

It may be possible to see four out of the top five spots at NCAA’s occupied by Big East lady harriers.

Coach @’s Big East Teams to Watch

Georgetown: Watch out for the Emilies: senior Emily Infield and junior, Emily Jones – a former Massachusetts state X-C champ. The latter has been cutting her teeth in Big East competition over the last three years and maybe ready for a very big X-C season. Graduating only one person from their 4th place NCAA team (All-American, Renee Tomlin), this seasoned squad will run away with the title if  Villanova and Providence don’t keep it close early.

“I really believe that being in the best conference in the country has been a huge asset for us at the NCAA level because we’re able to go into the national championships knowing that we’ve already run against the best competition and not get caught up in thinking we need to change what we do,” adds Georgetown head coach Chris Miltenberg.  “That is a huge source of confidence and composure that are the key to running your best at the NCAA meet. “The thing we emphasize the most is being the team that gets better as the season goes on.”

Providence: A true international effort here… Irish, Kiwi, and a few Americans look to dominate under the wisdom of Treacy.

“If we stay healthy, we will be in the mix – as I feel we have four potential All-Americans [including Shelby Greaney and Laura Nagel]. Our projected number-five, Mary Kate Champagne, was 51st at NCAAs last year,” says Treacy.

New Yorker Greaney grabbed 3rd in the Northeast Regional last year then went on to earn All-American honors with a 12th-place finish at NCAAs. Add transfer Emily Sisson from Wisconsin (14th in NCAAs) along with 2nd-team All-American Hannah Davidson, and Providence should not be counted out on the national landscape against the likes of Georgetown. If it comes down to a kick, Coach @ is betting on Providence.

Villanova: The defending champs (pictured) may not go down as easy as you think. Sheila Reid looks to dominate the Big East and the NCAAs once again. Her stellar performances on the track at the NCAAs (victories in the 1,500 meters and 3,000 meters over a fading Jordan Hassay) make her a contender for the NCAA title this year. Tradition may drive this pre-season #5 team to the top. Anything can happen on the way to Terra Haute.

“I definetly feel it is very beneficial to have such a strong conference,’” says Coach Proccacio  “We will definitely be well prepared for battle by the time NCAAs come along.”

Women to Watch

Sheila Reid, Villanova – Queen of the 2010-11 X-C and track champs, Reid will be the one to beat.

Emily Infield, Georgetown – finished 2nd at NCAA’s in 2010. She will push Reid to the line but needs to watch out for the rising Providence stars!

Shelby Greaney, Providence – 12th at NCAA’s in 2010. She will have to work hard with teammate, Sisson pushing hard.

Emily Sisson, Providence – 14th at NCAA’s in 2010. The Wisconsin transfer will enjoy the terrain and warmer climate of the Northeast but can she win?

Our Prediction:

The 2011 Big East women’s  team champion will be Providence, in a minor upset!

Coach @ ran cross country and track at Boston College back in the days when it was a big East, not ACC, contender. He is aiming for a 1:18 half marathon this fall, now that he is old and gray. Contact him here.

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Author: FasterThanForty

One Comment

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