Oct. 25, 2012
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -
The Providence College men's and women's cross country teams head to Van Cordlant Park today (Oct. 25) to prepare for the BIG EAST Championships being held Friday, Oct. 26, in Bronx, N.Y.
ON THE MEN'S SIDE: The men's 8K is scheduled to start at 11:50 a.m. The course covers over five miles of the park, looping throughout Van Cordlant Park, and ending with a lengthy sprint to the finish-line.
The Friars have a balanced team of youth and experience going into this season's championship. Last year, the Friars finished fifth led by current-sophomore Shane Quinn (Waterford, Ireland). Quinn finished 28th behind two Friar greats, Dominic Channon and David McCarthy. This season Quinn has taken over the lead position in their absence, finishing first for the Friars in every race he has participated. His top accomplishments this season include first place finishes at New Hampshire and Stony Brook, and an eighth place finish at the Paul Short Invitational.
The experienced runners joining Quinn in New York are fellow sophomores Benjamin Connor (Derby, England) and Liam Hillery (Smithfield, R.I.), and seniors Ahmed Ali (Boston, Mass.), Eric Malnati (Walpole, N.H.) and Alex Wallace (Waipukurau, New Zealand). Connor returns as the only other scorer from the event last year, where he finished 35th overall and fourth on the team. Connor has proved to be a strong teammate this year with a year's worth of experience, and has finished in the Friars top-five in each of the three races he has competed. He had top-10 overall finishes at New Hampshire and Stony Brook and placed second for the team at the Paul Short Invitational (35th). Senior captains Ali and Malnati finished 48th and 49th last year, respectively. Wallace, who placed 39th last year, will also be an integral competitor for the Friars.
Newcomers to the BIG EAST Championship include junior Jonathan Hopkins
(Bridgend, Wales) who made three appearances in the season and in 2011, but will be competing in the Championship for the first time tomorrow. Joining him are freshman Christian Costello
(Ridgewood, N.J.) and sophomore Luke Perron
(West Hartford, Conn.) who made their first appearances for the Friars this season at New Hampshire. Both also have competed in two other races this season. Rounding out the squad heading to the event is freshman Harvey Dixon
(Aldershot, England). Dixon made his first appearance in the black and silver when he was thrown into the fire at the Paul Short Invitational (49th overall; fourth on team) and the Wisconsin adidas Invitational (209th overall; third on team).
SCOUTING THE BIG EAST MEN: Top-competitors for the Friar men are Villanova, Georgetown and Louisville. No. 25 Villanova returns three of its six top performers from last year's championship and hopes to raise the championship trophy again this year. The Wildcats' top-performance thus far has been its first place finish at the Paul Short Invitational, where they had three racers finish in the top-10. The Hoyas bring back their top-finisher, and first place runner at the Paul Short Invitational, Mark Dennin. Dennin led No. 27 Georgetown to a second place finish last year and has consistently been a top-five finisher for the Hoyas this season. Louisville also brings back two of its top-three runners from its third place finish last year, Tyler Byrne and Gordon Dooley.
ON THE WOMEN'S SIDE: The women's 6K is scheduled to start at 11:00 a.m. The No. 10 Friar women will take on the grueling course and finish with a 1200-meter straightaway to the finish.
The Friars will be led by freshman-standout Sarah Mary Collins (Basel, Switzerland). The two-time BIG EAST Athlete of the Week made her first appearance of the season at the Paul Short Invitational, finishing third overall and first on the team, and continued to impress at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational (sixth overall; first on the team).
Joining Collins will be three of the Friars top-finishers from 2011, junior Laura Nagel (Napier, New Zealand), senior Shelby Greany (Suffern, N.Y.), and junior Emily Sisson (Chesterfield, Mo.), who will be making her first appearance of the season. Last year, Nagel finished sixth overall and second on the team, and has grown into a tough competitor this season. The New Zealand native had a top-finish at New Hampshire, finished second next to Greany at Stony Brook, and continued to shine at Paul Short and in Wisconsin. Greany finished 25th last year (fifth on the team) and has solidified herself as a top-three finisher for Providence this season. Sisson will be making a surprising appearance at the event this year, having finished fourth overall and first on the team at the event last year.
Juniors Erin Murphy (Easton, Mass.) and Grace Thek (Melbourne, Australia), and senior Sam Roecker (Charlton, N.Y.) are not strangers to the Championships. Murphy and Thek competed last year, finishing 32nd and 61st, respectively. Roecker did not compete in 2011, but did during her sophomore year where she placed 34th. The senior captain has also has proven to be a strong member of the Friar squad, finishing in the top-five every time she has competed this season.
The Friars also will be bringing freshmen Molly Keating (Rehoboth, Mass.), Lauren Mullins (Binghamton, N.Y.) and Katie Sischo (Jamesville, N.Y.) to round out its squad at the Championship. These newcomers all made their first appearances at New Hampshire, and all placed in the top-10 overall. Each has competed in a premier event this season, gaining valuable collegiate experience, and sealing their spots on the team travelling to the Bronx.
SCOUTING THE BIG EAST WOMEN: The BIG EAST features five nationally-ranked teams competing in this year's championship, including Providence (10), Georgetown(9), Villanova (22), Notre Dame (19) and Connecticut (29). BIG EAST defending champions, No. 22 Villanova, defeated the Friars by only nine points last year, and returns two of its top-five finishers. No. 9 Georgetown brings four of its top-five finishers back from its third place squad from last year's conference championship. The Friars have competed against the Wildcats and the Hoyas once during the regular season, at the Paul Short Invitational.