CAMBRIDGE, Mass.— For the fourth consecutive year, the Stony Brook University women’s cross country team has been selected as the preseason pick to defend its America East Conference championship. The Seawolves, who have won four straight America East conference championships, received six first-place votes and a total of 62 points in the poll. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Boston University racked up 54 points including two first place vote to grab the second spot with New Hampshire collected the final first-place vote and 50 points to lock down the third slot. The University of Maine and Vermont both received 38 points to tie for fourth with Albany scraping at their heels amassing 37 points. Binghamton (21 points), UMBC (16) and Hartford (8), round out the remaining places in this year’s poll.
Three of the top five squads have already received some regional buzz this year. Stony Brook, Boston U. and Vermont are all in the preseason top 15 regional rankings. The Seawolves are sixth, with the Terriers sitting in ninth and the Catamounts coming in ranked 15th in the Northeast. Stony Brook is also receiving votes in the national coaches’ poll.
Despite the graduation of All-American runners Lucy and Holly Van Dalen, Stony Brook returns a strong crop of performers who helped guide the Seawolves to the crown in 2010. Five of Stony Brook’s top seven finishers at last season’s championship meet are back. Senior Hayley Green (Wellington, New Zealand/Victoria University) and sophomore Annie Keown (Auckland, New Zealand/Auckland University) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at last year’s championship race before they both went on to place in the top 10 at the Northeast regional meet.
Boston University, which finished fourth at the 2010 championship meet, heads into the season led by Kathyrn Matthews (Rocky Hill, Conn./Rocky Hill). She was the top Terrier at five different races last year, including eighth-place at the conference championships. Boston U. returns five top-50 runners from the 2010 championship.
Last year’s runner-up, New Hampshire, returns the sixth place finisher from 2010 in senior Sydney Fitzpatrick (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial) and is picked third. Fitzpatrick and sophomore Elise Beattie (Woodstock, Ill./Woodstock), the 19th place finisher in 2010, will carry the load for a youth-filled Wildcat squad.
Maine, tabbed to finish tied for fourth in the conference with Vermont, will count on senior and All-Northeast Regional harrier, Corey Conner (Townsend, Mass./North Middlesex Regional). The 2009 individual conference champion, Conner placed third in 2010 leading her team to a third-place finish overall. Junior Whitney Chamberlain (Scarborough, Maine/Scarborough) and Jennifer Lucy (Bangor, Maine/Bangor) will be key contributors for the Blackbears, as well.
UVM placed all five point scorers in the top-35 at the championship meet last year and all five runners return to Burlington for another crack at a conference title. The Catamounts will look to seniors Morgan Powers (Cincinnati, Ohio/Indian Hill) and Bo Dunn (Harvard, Mass./The Broomfield School) to build on their strong performances from a year ago. Powers finished seventh overall at the championship in 2010.
Albany, which finished fifth at the conference meet, has four of its top 5 harriers back for the 2011 campaign. The Great Danes will lean on junior Emily Finnegan (Niskayuna, N.Y./Colonie Central) and sophomore Kathryn Fanning (Manlius, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius), who both had top-20 finishes at the 2010 championship.
Binghamton, picked to place sixth, has only one senior on this year’s squad. Top performing juniors Lindsay Raulli (North Syracuse, N.Y./Cicero North Syracuse) and Rachel Miura (Hopewell Junction, N.Y./John Jay) are back for the Bearcats, who took seventh in the 2010 meet.
After an eighth place showing in the conference meet a year ago, UMBC is tabbed to finish eighth this year, as well. Top performer Keri Wilson (Columbia, Md./Long Reach) is back for her senior season.
Hartford rounds out the poll in ninth place. Sophomore Megan Barry (South Yarmouth, Mass./Dennis Yarmouth Regional) was the Hawks’ top performer in every race last season as a rookie. She will lead a very young squad trying to better a last place finish in the conference meet.
The cross country season gets underway this weekend when UMBC runs at the Mount St. Mary’s Dual 5Ks. Stony Brook, Maine, New Hampshire and Albany get started on Sept. 3 while Vermont, Boston U. and Hartford all open their seasons the following weekend. The America East Championship will be decided on Oct. 29 at the University at Albany.
||Team (1st-place votes)
||Stony Brook (6)
||Boston U. (2)
||New Hampshire (1)