Women's Cross Country to Begin 2017 Campaign on Friday
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Navy women's cross country team kicks off its 2017 season on Friday afternoon with action at the Mount St. Mary's 5k Duals. The meet is set to begin at 1 p.m. in Emmitsburg, Md.
A year after going 6-1 in the regular season with a win over Army and a 5-1 result at their home Salty Dog Invitational, the Mids, under the direction of 31st year head coach Karen Boyle, are looking to improve on their Patriot League outcome that saw the team finish fourth overall in 2016. A strong quintet of returning athletes should spearhead that goal.
"This year's team has great depth and brings back a host of awesome returning athletes," remarked Boyle. "We had a very tough few weeks of tryouts to set up our top-10, which highlights the depth that we have across the roster. Having Claire Ostrowski join us after strong performances in distance events for track & field is a huge get for the program. We've got our eye on challenging for the Patriot League Championship and leaving our mark in the top-tier of the league."
From last year's Patriot League Championship seven-person lineup, junior Erin McDonnell is the top returner. An All-Patriot League First Team honoree in 2015, McDonnell finished 20th overall last October as the leader of a tight group of Midshipmen runners. All seven of Navy's 2016 lineup finished between 20th and 33rd at the event. Including the Patriot League meet, McDonnell was Navy's top finisher in four of its six contests.
Sophomores Grace West (23rd at PL) and Caitlin Schmitt (24th at PL) return after top-25 results in last fall's championship. West concluded her freshman season on the uptick with the second-best time for Navy at the Patriot League Championships and a season-best personal time two weeks later at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships. Schmitt was solid throughout the year for Navy with four top-five finishes over six events.
Senior Allison Parks (26th at PL) rivaled McDonnell for the Mids' top placement meet-in, meet-out as she was the highest finishing Mids at the Mount St. Mary's 5K Duals and Salty Dog Invitational, while ranking second at the Army-Navy Star Meet and third at the Roy Griak Invite and NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships.
Junior Ali Valenti (30th at PL) is the fifth top-level returner for Navy in 2017 as she competed in all six races last fall and was amongst the top-six Mids in four of those events.
Coach Boyle is excited about the prospects of augmenting those five Patriot League Championship starters with the likes of senior captain Evelyn Jansen, sophomores Claire Ostrowski and Kara Kakascik, as well as a deep freshmen class led by Emily Craig and Lilly Myers. Running in events over each of her first three years, including the Army-Navy and Patriot League Championship meets in 2016, Jansen will be leaned on to provide leadership both in and out of competition for Navy in 2017.
Ostrowski is expected to rocket towards the top of Navy's lineup after a stellar freshmen campaign in distance events for the Mids' indoor and outdoor track team. In spring competitions, she finished third in the 5,000-meter race at the Patriot League Championship before coming back at the ECAC Championship and running the second fastest 5K time in program history.
Karascik, a fellow sophomore, raced twice in cross country events and 2016 and ranked fourth in the Mids' lineup at the Paul Short Run last fall.
Craig and Myers have stood out so far during the preseason and have the potential to be top-five scoring threats for Navy as freshmen. Craig from nearby Reistertown, Md. was a multiple time honoree on the All-Metro teams for the Baltimore region between 2014-16, while Myers, a native of Erie, Pa., was the District 10 and Region 5 Runner of the Year during the 2016-17 school year.
2017 USTFCCCA Regional Cross Country Preseason Rankings
1. Penn State
4. West Virginia
11. George Washington
12. La Salle