BIG EAST Cross Country Championships Preview

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The 2009 BIG EAST Cross Country Championships will be held at the Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course in Kenosha, Wis., and hosted by Marquette University on Saturday, Oct. 31. This is the first time the BIG EAST Cross Country Championships will be held at this site. The men’s 8,000-meter race starts at 11 a.m. CT and the women’s 6,000-meter race will follow at 11:50 a.m. CT.

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More than 250,000 athletes have raced over 500,000 miles on the University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course. The course has hosted 28 NAIA national championships, many NCAA events and has been site of the NCAA & TAC national championships. The Parkside course has also been the home of the prestigious high school Foot Locker Midwest Regional Championships for the past 24 years.

Defending Their Titles
Returning to defend their sixth cross country title will be the Georgetown Hoyas, who feature all-American seniors Andrew Bumbalough and Levi Miller. Georgetown finished 29 points ahead of second-place finisher Notre Dame at last year’s event. The Hoyas claimed the first, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th spots at last year’s championship held at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y.

Bumbalough took the men’s individual title a season ago beating out Notre Dame’s graduated senior Patrick Smyth by 2.6 seconds.

The Villanova Wildcats are the 2008 women’s champions and look to retain their league crown. Last year’s title was Villanova’s 11th, but its first since 1998. The Wildcats narrowly beat out West Virginia in New York last year, winning the team championship by eight points. VU took the second, fifth, seventh, ninth and 17th spots last season.

West Virginia’s then-junior Marie-Louise Asselin won the individual title last year and returns to defend her crown. Asselin beat Villanova 2008 senior Frances Koons by 2.3 seconds.

BIG EAST Presence in the USTFCCCA Poll
The BIG EAST has had a strong contingent of teams in the men’s and women’s United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Poll throughout the 2009 season and currently boasts a total of 11 squads, six women’s and five men’s, in the top 30.

The Villanova women lead the BIG EAST in the polls with a No. 4 ranking. They are followed by three other schools in the top 10, No. 4 West Virginia, No. 9 Georgetown and No. 10 Syracuse. No. 24 Providence and No. 30 Norte Dame round out the top 30 on the women’s side for the conference.

The No. 10 Georgetown Hoyas lead the pack for the men. Syracuse is not far behind at No. 14. No. 17 Providence, No. 22 Villanova and No. 25 Louisville make up the rest of the ranked conference schools.

Eight Different Conference Squads Earn Weekly Award Winners
Each week that the BIG EAST named a men’s and women’s cross country athlete of the week, at least one new performer was honored. A total of 12 awards were received by eight different schools. No team swept the weekly awards.  Matthew Graham of DePaul was the only two-time winner, taking the award in week three and week five.

Men

1. Matt Hughes – Louisville
2. Mark Dennin – Georgetown
3. Matthew Graham – DePaul
4. Andrew Bumbalough – Georgetown
5. Matthew Graham – DePaul
6. Cory Throne – Lousiville

Women

1. Shelby Greany – Providence
2. Jocelyn McCauley – Cincinnati
3. Clara Grandt – West Virginia
4. Sheila Reid – Villanova
5. Sarah Lesile – Connecticut
6. Emily Infeld – Georgetown

Championship Central
The most up-to-date information on the 2009 Cross Country Championships is all at the Championship Central Page on BIGEAST.org. As soon as the races are final, results and recaps can be accessed. Also, video highlights of the entire meet and post-race interviews with the individual winners and head coaches can be seen free of charge.  Fans also have the opportunity to purchase photos from the event and check the out the official 2009 Cross Country Championships Program.

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