Providence, RI- The Brown University women's cross country team opens their season by competing a small and underclass-laden contingent at the Dartmouth Invitational in Hanover, New Hampshire this Saturday, September 10th. The majority of the remaining student-athletes will first see action the following Saturday, the 17th, at the Iona Meet of Champions at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York.
First-year head coach Mitchell Baker inherits a squad that finished seventh at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships and returns eight of the twelve that raced to a third place team finish at last year's Heptagonal Championships, including the team's top finisher in sophomore Margaret Connelly (5th). Though limited in competition by injury in the winter and spring, a consistent summer of training should put her back in the front pack for Brown this fall.
The Bears return another three student-athletes that finished in the Heptagonal Championships top-twenty in Elaine Kuchertz '13 (12th), Ari Garber '12 (16th), and Heidi Caldwell '14 (20th). All three experienced breakthroughs in the winter and spring between the 1,500 / Mile and 5,000-meters, most notably Caldwell in the form of two scoring efforts at the Outdoor Heptagonal Championships (3,000m - 4th / 5,000m – 5th) and a First Round NCAA qualification in the 5,000-meters.
Returner Olivia Mickle '13, who earned a breakthrough in the 5,000-meters in the 2011 outdoor track and field season, looks capable of leading the replacement of those lost to graduation, while a group focused on the middle distances in the track and field season, including cross country co-captain Rosie Fleming '12, should mix in well with developing long-distance athletes like classmate and co-captain Rachel Baker. A number of sophomores and juniors have come into the season healthy and prepared, while no-less than four newcomers could impact based on high school credentials as the squad solidifies its front pack, transitions to new leadership and coaching, and aims for peak performances at the Heptagonal and Northeast Regional Championships.
"As a group and in these early days of training, we have worked hard to establish our values and daily expectations. The women are extremely invested in one another and in building the health and competitiveness of the program from an individual to team level, which the captains and I have been especially focused upon. The energy level has been positive and I am pleased to see their devotion to balancing academics with top athletic performance. Building upon those aspects of training that were affective in the past, we are already seeing progress in the quality of training even as we build patiently for the long term."
In addition to early season meets hosted by Dartmouth and Iona, the team will look to measure form in the middle of the season at the highly competitive Paul Short Invitational hosted by Lehigh on September 30th. The following two weekends, first the All New England Championships at Franklin Park in Boston on October 8th, and next the team's lone home competition, the Rothenberg Run on October 14th, will be opportunities for developing athletes and serve as a final tune-up before the championship season.
The Heptagonal Championships on October 29th , typically a Friday but this year on a Saturday, will depart from their usual home, Van Cortlandt Park, due to continuing construction. Princeton will host and alumni that typically have been unable to attend due to work conflicts are encouraged to come out and cheer on the team. Two weeks later, on November 12th, the top-seven women will line up in the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships hosted by the University of Buffalo with births to the NCAA Championships hosted by Indiana State ten days later up for grabs.
To view Brown's complete schedule, click HERE!