Cross Country Has High Hopes For MAAC Championships

Oct. 25, 2010

Baltimore, Md. - The Loyola University Maryland cross country teams will compete on Friday at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Championships at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Conn. The men will race at noon, and the women follow at 1 p.m.

The course is one that neither the Greyhounds, nor any other team in the conference, has seen this season. Last year at the championships, the men's team finished sixth and the women were fourth for the second straight season.

"The course at Hammonasset Park will be new to most everyone in the conference," said Head Coach Rick Woods. "It should not be an advantage or disadvantage to any particular team. It would have been nice to race on it before a championship event but there were no meets scheduled that we could make, so that was not an option.

"Both the men and women are looking to improve over last year's championships at MAACs. Last year, we ran our best races earlier in the season and were tired by the championships. We also had a few untimely injuries that affected our finish. The team has learned (this year), is running smarter and so far the injuries have been minimal. We will see how that plays out on Friday."

Iona took last year's men's team title and was followed by Marist, Rider, Manhattan, Fairfield and the Greyhounds. Following Loyola were Canisius, Niagara and Siena. The Gaels also took the women's team title and they were followed by Marist, Canisius and the Greyhounds. Loyola defeated Rider, Fairfield, Manhattan, Niagara, Siena and Saint Peter's.

The best-ever finish for the men is fourth since joining the MAAC in 1989. The Greyhounds have finished fourth on five occasions (2008, 2007, 2006, 2004 and 1994). The best-ever finish for the women was when they won the championships in 2003.

"The men have been focused on a top three finish at MAACs all year, and it is totally within their ability," said Woods. "We do not have a big front runner this season but as a pack we are doing better than ever. The men are out to make history and the ladies are hoping to repeat history."

The best individual finish for Loyola women since 2002 was in 2005 when Caitlin Dunne won the event with a time of 21:32.2 and in 2002 when Jackie Truncellito won the meet with a time of 22:57.2. The best finish for the men since 2002 was last year where Dan McDevitt finished fourth with a time of 25:49.3.

Leading the way for the Greyhounds last season at the championships was senior Amanda Bossi who finished 10th out of 121 runners with a 23:59.5 time. Junior Stephanie Gibney took 11th with a time of 24:01.3.

"Amanda and Stephanie are both much better runners this year and are shooting for top ten spots," added Woods. "The better news is they will have plenty of company with Emily Doucette, Kate Cervo, and a freshman troop of Victoria Szczawinski, Marissa Galante and Gabrielle Cocco. We expect sophomore Emily Rooney will also be pushing for one of those top ten spots as well. It should be crowded at the front with Greyhounds."

Other Loyola finishers at the championships were Emily Doucette (20th, 24:44.5), Jackie D'Antonio (39th, 25:29.7), Kate Cervo (47th, 25:38.9), Sara Ochs (52nd, 25:43.7), Emily Rooney (55th, 25:48.7), Margaret Larkin (78th, 27:00.1) and Meagan Keane (108th, 29:20.5).

On the men's side, Stephen Febish finished 31st with a time of 27:45.3 and he was followed by Kieran Dowling who was 41st with a time of 28:06.0 and Tim Burns who was 52nd with a time of 28:32.1.

"Iona's men's team is currently ranked fourth in the country so we expect they will take the top 8 - 10 spots," said Woods. "They are that good. So the race at MAACs is really for second and third which means filling in the top 25 places. Our goal is to get Steve and Kieran in the top 15 with 3, 4, 5 right behind. Tim Burns, DJ Puleo and Jonathan Verrengia should be leading that charge along with sophomore Eric Loose and freshman Nick Barletta. Junior captain Matt Hassett has been a top finisher all season and should be another contender for a top 15 spot. If we can do that the team will finish well."