September 1, 2006

Women's Cross Country Season Outlook

Sept. 1, 2006

Providence, RI - The women's cross country team opens the 2006 roster with a roster full of both experienced leaders and incoming talent.

XC/Track Director Craig Lake returns for her second year mentoring the Bears, ready to help the squad continue the trend of improvement set last year. In her first season, she took the harriers from seventh in the Ivy League to fifth, and within striking range of the top three. While Lake's former squad, Columbia, has the potential to defend its title, Brown, along with Princeton and Yale, will look to dethrone the four-time champion Lions.

Senior captain Michol Monaghan (Uniontown, PA) returns to pace the Bears in her final campaign. Monaghan, Brown's top returner from the Heptagonal Championships last fall, is coming off a breakthrough outdoor track season, placing fifth at Heps in the 5,000 meters. Her time of 16:48 ranks her third all-time for the Bears. Classmate Naja Ferjan (Ljubljana, Slovenia), having recovered from an ailment that kept her from competing in top form last fall, had a consistent and successful track season in 2006, especially on the Ivy Champion 4x800 team. Ferjan, who was named second team All-Ivy in cross country in 2004, will bring the conference's top middle distance speed to help complement Monaghan's endurance.

Lake also hopes to see three juniors cut into their times to help anchor the varsity squad this year. Alex Brown (Kingston, NY), Becky Crossin (Annandale, NJ) and Smita Gupta (Tulsa, OK) made solid strides on the track, and now with a sold summer of distance training, should be in the mix. Brown, who competed in the Bears' top seven for much of last season, set personal bests in the indoor and outdoor 5,000 meters on the track (17:50). Crossin and Gupta bolstered the middle-distance team with their 800- and 1,500-meter times (4:41 and 4:33, respectively), with Gupta also running on the championship 4x800 relay squad.

Sophomore Lindsay Kahn, the team's 2005 rookie of the year, was a familiar name last year on the varsity roster despite battling sickness. Outdoors, she clocked the school's second-fastest time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (10:45), and should be another key member for the Bears throughout the season.

Back on the roster after a two-year hiatus is junior Nora Sullivan (Cambridge, MA). In 2003, she made her mark on the distance top ten boards, most notably on the indoor 5,000-meters at 16:45, and could give the harriers added depth and experience.

The largest obstacle the team needs to overcome is the graduation of key player. The top three runners at NCAA Regionals and four members of the nine-runner team Brown took to Heps graduated, including All-Americans Kelly Powell and Anna Willard. However, the roster has benefited from an extremely talented incoming freshmen class. Four Californians, Brooke Giuffre, Jenna Ridgway, Yasmine White, and Ariel Wright, boast impressive high school resumes from one of the most competitive states in the country, and should make an immediate impact on the team.

Bruno's 2006 campaign gets underway Sept. 8 at Franklin Park in Boston, where the Bears will compete in the Boston University Invitational. The Heptagonal Championships will be Oct. 27 at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City.