UConn women's cross country surprises at Ted Owens Invitational
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012 23:09
It was a weekend of pleasant surprises for the UConn women's cross country team as the squad cruised to a fourth-place finish at the Ted Owens Invitational at Central Connecticut State University. Leading the way for the Huskies was senior Brigitte Mania, who finished in 6th place with a personal best time of 18:07 in Saturday's shorter-than-normal 5K race. Following Mania was sophomore Tierra Brody, who finished 16th with a finishing time of 19:02, freshmen Katherin Vodopia and Lauren Williamson, finishing 26th and 27th, respectively, and freshman Emily Howard, who rounded out the Husky starting five with a time of 20:11.
Coach Andrea Grove-McDonough went into the race knowing that her top runners would not be participating, but she still had a specific attack plan in mind. Grove-McDonough had a handful of runners on the team that had experienced some sort of snag, whether it was an injury, an illness, or perhaps simply not being in regular season form. The coach wanted to use the Ted Owens race as an opportunity for those runners to receive some experience in a regular season event, as well as to scout out what type of depth she has to work with going forward.
"Honestly, I was very pleasantly surprised. It sounds bad to say that I was going into [the meet] with low expectations, but I was going into it with low expectations," Grove-McDonough said. "A number of kids in that group had had some sort of little setback here or there in the first month, and had missed blocks of training. Basically, it was a group of comeback kids that surprised me."
Leading that group of "comeback kids" was Mania, who thoroughly impressed Grove-McDonough by setting a new personal best in the 5K. Mania suffered a stress fracture last spring, which forced her to redshirt. Due to the lengthy rehab process, she couldn't resume training until July of this year. But despite her setback in cross country, Mania brings intriguing talent to the team, given her ability and proven success in the 4x800 relay, the indoor 1,000-meter and the 800-meter events.