September 4, 2008

Women's Cross Country Prepares For 2008 Fall Season

Sept. 4, 2008

By Kevin Mullaney
Special to GoHolyCross.com

Last October the Holy Cross women's cross country team turned a lot of heads when they finished 10th overall out of 44 teams at the 2007 New England Championship. Later that month, after Patriot League preseason polls predicted them to finish the season in eighth place, the women exceeded expectations by finishing seventh and missing sixth place by only one point at the 2007 Patriot League Championship. This season, in 2008, the Crusaders hope to build on the success they experienced last season and exceed expectations once again.

"This year I am very confident that we have enough talent to finish in the middle of the Patriot League," said head coach Jim Kavanagh. "We certainly have the ability to move up from last year's seventh place finish." While the Patriot League preseason polls predict another seventh place finish, the Crusaders are confident they have the depth and the leadership to improve.

Seniors Elizabeth Alizzi (Syosset, N.Y), Kari Viola (Bohemia, N.Y.) and Colleen Spilka (Hamden, Conn.) will lead the team as tri-captains this season. This trio is poised to provide the Crusaders with a strong core of veteran leadership. Spilka is anticipated to be consistently among the top finishers for Holy Cross, coming off of a very intense summer training regimen. Kavanagh describes this training as "quite evident" after seeing her exceed expectations during the team's recent practice sessions.

Senior Alexandra Swiatocha (Mahopac, N.Y.) is also expected to make significant contributions. Swiatocha is believed to have run more mileage this offseason than any female cross country runner who has ever been a part of Holy Cross's program. Last year's most improved distance runner, junior Sarah Croteau (Westminster, Mass.), is also anticipated to consistently score and steadily improve this season. Spilka, Swiatocha and Croteau have been repeatedly leading the pack throughout the preseason, with their efforts culminating in their top-three finish during a recent timed run.

The Crusaders anticipate their freshmen newcomers will also be able to contribute to the team's success. Elizabeth Humphries (Siler City, N.C.) is believed to have the potential to make an immediate impact in the scoring while Katie Andree (Colts Neck, N.J.) and Sarah Mellea (North Arlington, N.J.) have exhibited a great deal of promise in recent practices and possess the potential to break into the top seven scorers.

Other returning letterwinners for the Crusaders include senior Caitlin Paluilis (Pittsfield, Mass.), juniors Meghan Dunne (Mendham, N.J.) and Claire Luke (Delmar, N.Y.), and sophomores Rose Calvo (Rocky Hill, Conn.), Jacqueline Imse (Simsbury, Conn.), Margaret Molloy (West Hartford, Conn.) and Suzanne Wallace (Shoreham, N.Y.). They are all expected to contribute this season.

"With a caliber of training unlike ever before, strong senior leadership and an influx of freshmen talent, the women's team is definitely ready to do some damage on the cross country course this season," says senior Cara Joyce (Cumberland, R.I.). "Our opening meet is just the beginning of a very promising season."

The Crusaders begin the 2008 season this Friday, September 5, when they travel to Central Connecticut to compete in the Blue Devil Invitational. The women's 5k is set to begin at 6:30 p.m.

The team will again compete in the New England Championship on October 11 in Boston, Mass. and the Patriot League Championship on November 1 in Bethlehem, Pa.