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Women's Track Opens Indoor Season at Home Thursday

Head coach Carla Criste

Nov. 30, 2011

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy women's track and field team is set to open the 2011-12 indoor season in the Navy Lidlifter on Thursday at 5:00 PM in the Wesley A. Brown Field House. Navy will be hosting American, Delaware State, Morgan State, Mount St. Mary's, Towson and William & Mary. The meet will be scored as a double-dual meet. The first running event will be the 5,000m at 5:15.

Last season at the Navy Lidlifter, Navy picked up dual wins over American, Mount St. Mary's, Towson and Morgan State. Navy won four individual events and the 4x800m relay. Individual winners were Jess Palacio (1,600m), Liz Milewski (3,000m), Teronda Brown (shot put) and Amanda Phelps (weight throw).

Following the Lidlifter, Navy will have a few weeks off for winter break and will return to action at the Delaware Invitational on January 6. Navy won six events to take first in the six-team field at the Delaware Invitational last January.

Navy Lidlifter Meet Schedule

Field Events
5:00 pm    	Weight Throw (Shot Put follows)
5:00 pm 	Long Jump (Triple Jump follows)
5:00 pm 	High Jump
5:30 pm     	Pole Vault

Running Events 5:00 pm 5,000m Run 5:25 pm 60m Hurdles 5:35 pm 60m Dash 5:55 pm Mile Run 6:05 pm 400m Dash 6:25 pm 800m Run 6:35 pm 200m Dash 6:55 pm 3,000m Run 7:05 pm 4x400m Relay 7:15 pm 4x800m Run

Parking Info: Only cars with Department of Defense stickers are permitted to drive onto the Yard. There will not be a shuttle service for this meet. It is recommended that fans park outside the Yard and walk through Gates 1 or 8.

Navy Women's Track and Field Season Preview

The Navy women's track and field team is coming off a strong season and is returning the bulk of its top performers for the 2011-12 season. Navy was dominant in winning the 2011 Patriot League Indoor Championship; besting second-place Bucknell by 40 points and the team swept the Army-Navy Star Meet for the third straight year.

The Mids bring back 15 athletes who earned All-Patriot League honors last season, six athletes that earned ECAC All-East accolades and four that competed in the NCAA's East Regional.

With the talent that Navy is returning, the team should be a favorite to repeat as indoor league champions and will remain a contender on the regional and national scene.

Head coach Carla Criste is entering her 21st season leading the Navy program. Criste has been tabbed as the Patriot League Indoor Coach of the Year for each of the past three seasons and will once again be joined by assistants Karen Boyle (distance) and Steven Sarigiannis (throws).

"I think the team is pretty well-rounded and well-seasoned in most of the events this year," Criste said. "We are two or three deep and I think we will hold up pretty well in both the dual meet and championship scenarios. As long as everyone stays healthy and on track, this should be one of our best years."

Senior Mansfield Murph has competed in every event from the 60m dash to the 800m run and is Navy's top returner in the 400m and 500m. Murph earned ECAC All-East honors in the 500m and took first place in the event at the Patriot League Indoor Championships last year. Murph will serve as the team's indoor captain.

"Mansfield just has an incredible ability to bring everyone together as a unit," head coach Carla Criste said. "She's an all-inclusive type of person. She always has a positive leadership style and has a true can-do, optimist attitude, which I think is contagious for everybody on the team. So far she's really helped start us off on a positive winning note."

Junior Arabia Littlejohn captured the 400m title (57.32) at the Patriot League Indoor Championship last year. She also ran the fastest preliminary time (25.44) in the 200m at the league meet, before settling for fourth in the finals. Littlejohn also clocked the team's top 200m time of the outdoor season (25.80).

Sophomore Veronica Ffrench only competed on the outdoor track and field squad, as she was a member of the volleyball team in the fall and the women's basketball team in the winter. Ffrench impressed in the 200m last spring in limited action and her 26.07 was the team's second-fastest outdoor time, behind Littlejohn. Ffrench will be competing in both the indoor and outdoor track seasons for Navy this season.

Junior Jessica Ridgway has emerged as Navy's top performer in the short sprints. Ridgway's 7.89 in the 60m dash and her 12.33 in the 100m dash were both team bests last season. Ridgway scored at the Patriot League Championships in both events. Junior Jenne Jolie will also be a key contributor in the short sprints.

"Overall, we have a great corps of sprinters," said Criste. "We'll have Arabia back as a defending league champion and Veronica Ffrench has started out amazingly. Jenne Jolie has also been stepping up a lot in practice and looks super fit."

Middle Distance
Jess Palacio is already Navy's most decorated middle distance runner and she still has one more season to add to her impressive achievements. The senior, who was previously enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps for two-and-a-half years before coming to the Academy, will be a strong candidate to become Navy's first Division I athlete to advance to the NCAA Track and Field Championship.

Palacio has been named the Patriot League Track-Athlete of the Meet at each of the last three league meets, she has won seven career individual league titles, earned three ECAC All-East honors and competed in two NCAA East Regional meets. Additionally, she owns Navy school records in the 800m (both indoor and outdoor), the 1,500m run and the mile run.

Palacio has already been off to a banner senior season, winning the Patriot League Cross Country individual title in the fall and competing in the NCAA Cross Country Championships, where she placed 164th out of the nation's top 254 runners.

Palacio narrowly missed earning bids to both the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Championships in 2010-11. Palacio ran a 2:05.89 in the 800m during the indoor season, which placed her 20th on the national indoor performance list. The NCAA took 16 competitors in the 800m and the last time in was a 2:05.68.

In the outdoor season, Palacio competed in the 800m at the NCAA's East Regional, where she won her heat in the first round of the event. Palacio then placed 13th in what was the national quarterfinals. Only the top 12 finishers from the region advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Championship, as Palacio missed a bid by one place.

"I think Jess is completely determined to make it to the NCAA Championship in all three seasons this year after getting so close last season," said Criste. "She's already attained her goal in cross country and her true passion is the 800m in indoor track. We'd love for her to achieve All-American before she graduates and she stands a really good chance to do that."

In addition to Palacio, Navy will have junior Liz Milewski as a solid competitor in the middle distance events. Milewski was right behind Palacio in the mile at the Army-Navy indoor Star Meet as the duo took 1-2 in the event. Milewski also took third in the 3,000m run at the indoor league meet. Rookies Shannon Cuthbert and Annie-Norah Beveridge will also compete in the mid-distance and distance events.

"We are really excited about Annie-Norah Beveridge and Shannon Cuthbert," said Criste. "There is a lot of speed and its great that the freshmen are being mentored by Jess. Jess is also working really synergistically with Mollie Hebda and Liz Milewski. They set a really good pack and the underclassmen are trying to surpass them."

Cuthbert is the daughter of Stefani Green, a mid-distance All-American for Navy at the Division II level in the 1980s.

The middle distance runners, along with the distance runners led Navy to a Patriot League Cross Country team championship in the fall, under the direction of assistant track coach and head cross country coach Karen Boyle.

Navy has a deep pool of distance runners returning for the 2011-12 season. Seniors Mollie Hebda and Katie Taylor are the veterans of the group. Taylor clocked Navy's top times in the 3,000m and the 5,000m last season and posted ECAC-qualifying times in both events during indoor. Hebda also competed well in the indoor season, qualifying for the ECACs in the 3,000m and senior Marina McGrail will also be counted on in the distance events.

"We expect good things out of Katie Taylor," said Criste. "She definitely wants to go to back to ECACs and make All-East."

Junior Brigid Byrne had a breakout sophomore season in track and field. Byrne took second place in the 10,000m at the outdoor league meet to earn All-Patriot League Second Team honors. She qualified for the ECACs in the 10,000m and the indoor 5,000m. She also scored and was Navy's top finisher (3rd) in the 5K at the indoor league meet.

"Brigid was very exciting at the Patriot League Cross Country Championships in the 6K," said Criste. "She is off to a very strong start this year and she will segue into a great leadership role next year."

Byrne placed ninth at the Patriot League Cross Country Championships to earn All-Patriot League Second Team honors.

A number of athletes mentioned previously as middle distance runners will also compete in the longer distance runs.

Navy won both the 4x400m and the 4x800m relay titles at the 2011 Patriot League Indoor Championship. The 4x800m team of Milewski, Erin Neumann ('11), Murph and Palacio set a Navy record with a time of 8:59.78. The 4x400m team of Colleen McFadden, Smith, Murph and Littlejohn took first place with a time of 3:53.91.

Ffrench joined Littlejohn, Murph and Palacio on the outdoor 4x400m team that took second at the Patriot League meet. The Mids will also return all four of its 4x100m team from a year ago in Ridgway, Ffrench, Smith and Littlejohn.

With so much returning talent, Navy's relay teams will remain a strength of the team in 2011-12.

Senior Ashley Aitken returns after being Navy's top sprint hurdler last season. Aitken placed second at the Patriot League Indoor Championship in the 60m hurdles, marking the second time she earned All-Patriot League Second Team honors. Aitken also posted Navy's season-best time in the 100m hurdles during the outdoor season.

"Ashley has an incredible amount of potential," said Criste. "If we can have her healthy, we could see some great things with her speed and tenacity."

Junior Kristin Smith returns as Navy's top performer in the outdoor 400m hurdles and seniors Lauren Carson and Amanda Bonilla, and junior Caitlyn Fine will provide depth to the event.

With four scorers back in the high jump from last season's Patriot League Championships, Navy will once again look to pick up solid points in the event all season long.

Junior Kristin Smith won the Patriot League Indoor high jump title last season and is a former ECAC All-East performer in the event. Senior Christine Scales placed second in the high jump during the indoor season last year and won a title of her own in 2009.

Junior Melanie Sluzewicz earned a pair of All-Patriot League Second Team honors last season by taking at least a share of second place in the high jump during the indoor and outdoor seasons. Sophomore Veronica Ffrench took fourth in the high jump at the outdoor league meet.

"I'm very excited about the high jump," said Criste. "Melanie, Kristin and Veronica have all cleared 5-7 in practice this year and all three should qualify early for ECACs. The competitiveness in those high jump practices has been awesome. They get after it. They are teammates, but they are very competitive with each other, and we will have a very exciting year in the high jump."

Junior Jordan Kronshage will join Scales as Navy's top returners in the pole vault and freshman Amanda Graham is expected to be a key contributor in the event in her first season at the collegiate level.

The Mids will move forward without their top long jump and triple jumper from a year ago in Ashley Bucholz. Bucholz placed second in the long jump at the outdoor league meet with a school record performance of 19-5½ (5.93m). Sluzewicz will be counted on to contribute in the long jump and Criste has a number of athletes looking to emerge in the triple jump.

Navy's throwers will represent one of the team's strongest units in the 2011-12 season, after returning three NCAA East Regional qualifiers. Senior Amanda Phelps leads the way and will serve as the outdoor season team captain and Lauren Allam and Alix Membreno return after sensational freshmen campaigns.

Phelps achieved a number of impressive feats last season, which include being named the Patriot League Outdoor Championship Field-Athlete of the Meet, earning ECAC All-East honors, winning three Patriot League individual titles and competing in the hammer throw at the NCAA East Regional. Phelps took league titles in the weight throw, hammer throw and shot put. Phelps also won the weight throw in the first six meets she competed in during the indoor season before taking 12th at the ECAC Championship.

"Amanda is a natural leader and has a very strong work ethic and people feed off of her determination, diligence and dedication," said Criste. "The intensity has been wonderful in the weight room this year, in large part due to her getting in there and showing them how its done. She always comes in to practice and just gets it done succinctly with good intensity."

Lauren Allam dominated the outdoor season in the discus event. Allam won the Patriot League discus title with a new Navy and league championship meet record of 165-7 (50.49m). Allam was tabbed as the Patriot League Outdoor Championship Rookie of the Meet for her efforts and went on to earn ECAC All-East honors and competed in the NCAA East Regional.

Alix Membreno took second in the javelin at the league championship meet, earned ECAC All-East honors and competed in the NCAA East Regional with Allam and Phelps. Membreno came over to the outdoor track and field team after helping lead the Navy women's basketball team to a Patriot League title and berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Navy also has two more talented throwers in sophomore Teronda Brown and senior Ella Starr. Brown scored at the Patriot League Indoor Championship by placing third in the shot put and Starr was fourth in the hammer at the outdoor league meet. Freshman Katelyn Stoltenburg will also look to contribute to the throwing events.

"We will just crush the throws this year," Criste said. "Those kids are about as prepared as they will ever be and [assistant coach] Steven Sarigiannis has done an amazing job. It will be very exciting."

Sarigiannis enters his sixth season at Navy with what might be the deepest pool he has coached to date.

Senior Arian Davis has been the highlight of Navy's multi-events for the past three seasons. Davis won the pentathlon at the Patriot League Indoor Championship last season and followed that by earning ECAC All-East honors in the heptathlon during the outdoor season. Additionally, Davis has placed second in the heptathlon at the league's outdoor meet in each of her first three seasons.

"Arian has been working her butt off," said Criste. "She is focused and has been getting after it at practice. She really wants to defend her league title in the pentathlon and hopefully put her name in the school record books."

As usual, the highlight of Navy's schedule is the Army-Navy Star Meet. Navy will host the indoor Star Meet on February 4 and the Mids will travel to West Point on April 7 for the outdoor meet. Navy defeated Army easily in both the indoor (103.5-77.5) and outdoor (129-73) meets last season for its third straight sweep of Army. Navy has defeated Army for the indoor Star six straight times.

Navy will be home in the Wesley A. Brown Field House during the indoor season on Dec. 1 for the Navy Lidlifter, Jan. 14 for the Navy Open and Jan. 28 for the Distance Classic. The Mids will host the Sweetheart Meet on Feb. 9, five days after hosting the Army-Navy meet.

A new meet on the indoor schedule this season is the USA Track and Field National Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. on Feb. 25-26. Navy will send its top athletes to the competition to go up against some of the best in the country.

The Mids will try to win a second straight Patriot League Indoor Championship from Feb. 17-19 at Bucknell. The ECAC Indoor Championship will be held in Boston from March 3-4 and the NCAA Indoor Championships will be hosted by Boise State, March 9-10.

Navy will open the outdoor schedule at Ingram Field with its only home meet of the spring, on March 24, as the team welcomes in four schools for the Navy Invitational. Navy will compete locally at the Terrapin Invitational at College Park on March 31 and at the Hopkins Invitational in Baltimore on April 14. Navy will also be at the Larry Ellis Invitational (April 20-21) and the Penn Relays (April 26).

The 2012 Patriot League Outdoor Championships will be hosted by Holy Cross May 4-5. The Outdoor ECAC Championships will be held in Princeton and the NCAA's East Regional will be held in Jacksonville, Fla. The 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships will be held in Des Moines, Iowa from June 6-9.



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