Cross Country Ready For MAAC Championships

Oct. 25, 2011

BALTIMORE, Md. - The Loyola University Maryland men's and women's cross country teams will compete at the 2011 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships on Friday at Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, N.Y. The women's race will begin at 12:00 p.m. ET with the men's race following at 12:45 p.m.

The course at Van Cortlandt Park is very familiar to the Greyhounds along with the rest of the teams in the MAAC, as the conference championship returns to the course in the Bronx for the 27th time.

Iona enters as the reigning champion for both the men and women and have established themselves as one of the top teams in the country the past few seasons.

The Greyhound women claimed one conference title since joining the MAAC in 1989, winning the conference meet in 2003 by six points over Iona. Loyola is looking to improve upon its third-place finish from last year when they totaled 71 points and finished behind first-place Iona and second-place Canisius.

The Greyhounds have a solid core of returning runners along with very talented newcomers that have performed well in the season leading up to the conference championship.

Senior captain Stephanie Gibney has been consistent for Head Coach Rick Woods this season, and brings experience to the course for the Greyhounds. Gibney placed 13th last year at the MAAC Championships and has two top-10 finishes this year.

Jackie D'Antonio will also be a key to Loyola's success on Friday and has been the Greyhounds' top-finisher twice this season.

Woods looks for sophomore Gabrielle Cocco and senior Emily Doucette to contribute to the point scoring as well. Cocco was the top-performer at the Penn State National, placing 68th with a time of 23:14 in rainy and muddy conditions.

A pair of freshman in Anna Bosse and Jessica Peters will also be in contention to score for Loyola. Peters medaled in her first collegiate competition at the Seagull Open and was a state champion in Maryland in high school. Bosse has also been strong on the course and brings state championship experience of her own to the Greyhounds.

The last Greyhound to win the individual title at the conference meet was Caitlin Dunne, who won at Van Cortlandt Park in 2005 with a time of 21:32.20.

The men's side placed sixth last year and hopes to improve on that with the return of two of its top-ive finishers from a year ago.

Senior captain Matt Hassett was the second Greyhound to cross the finish line in 2010 in 26th with a time of 26:03.1. Hassett has set his own personal record twice this season, the last coming at the Great American XC Festival where he placed a season-best ninth with a time of 25:54.

Hassett will look for help from DJ Puleo, who placed 60th last year and has a pair of top-20 finishes this season.

Senior Ian McArtney has shown steady improvement this season and will also be a key to the Greyhound championship hopes. McArtney was the second Loyola runner to cross the finish line at the Penn State National with a time of 28:53 in 95th.

The best individual finish for the men since 2002 was last year where Dan McDevitt finished fourth with a time of 25:49.3.

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).