UConn sprints to Cortland Park for conference championship
Published: Friday, October 26, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2012 00:10
The UConn women’s cross-country team will be traveling to the Bronx this Friday to compete in the Big East Conference Championship. The Huskies are heading into the race ranked 29th in the country, only the second national ranking in the history of the program. Coach Andrea Grove-McDonough’s squad is in excellent position to have a strong finish at the championships, given that the entire starting lineup is healthy and ready to go. Returning to Storrs as the Big East Champions isn’t out of the question.
Even though the Huskies have cracked the national top 30 – a tremendous feat in its own right – the Big East boasts four other nationally ranked programs: Georgetown (ranked 9th), Providence (10th), Notre Dame (19th), and Villanova (22nd). For obvious reasons, the road to victory will not be an easy one for Coach Grove-McDonough’s team to tread.
“It’s going to be a barn-burner,” Grove-McDonough said. “The Big East is a super competitive cross-country conference, but its exciting and fun in that you have five nationally ranked teams going at it for a conference title. I think we could be anywhere from first to fifth, which sounds like a wide range, but you just never know with the Big East.”
Another tough Big East opponent that is not currently ranked is Syracuse, which was a top ten team nationally as recently as October 2. Coach Grove-McDonough has made sure not to rule out the Orange by any means, as they are still likely to mount a serious attack on Friday.
“I don’t think their team has run anywhere near their potential,” Grove-McDonough said. “The last thing you want to do is just count a team out. I know their roster and their staff pretty well, and at any moment they can pull something out. Syracuse was in the national rankings for a long time for a reason. They have the team to make it happen.”
Grove-McDonough’s lineup for the Big East will consist of senior Shauna McNiff, juniors Lauren Sara and Allison Lasnicki, sophomore Lindsay Crevoiserat and freshman Julia Zrinyi. Also making the trip will be seniors Kim Moran and Alison Cooper, junior Brigitte Mania and freshman Abby Mace.
The race will be held at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, a course that Grove-McDonough and her team have run on before. The course features long increments of relatively flat terrain, with the only change in incline coming in the form of a one-mile climb prior to a flattened-out finishing stretch. By no means is it the most challenging of courses, but it will play a more than adequate role as host for what is such a critical event.
The Big East Championship will provide yet another difficult test for the UConn women’s cross-country team. It is indisputable that this year’s team has improved by leaps and bounds over last year’s, and improving on a seventh-place finish at the Big East Championship in 2011 will no doubt be a primary goal for this year’s race. But Grove-McDonough also has the luxury of going for the win, and if you can count on one thing, it is that the Huskies will give it everything they have.