Saints Looking for Another Regional Title and Trip To Nationals
Nov. 6: St. Lawrence University's women's cross country team has been a regular participant in the NCAA Division III championships with four straight appearances and two top tens in that stretch. They have been the dominant program in New York State over the last several seasons, with 11 straight conference titles, five straight NYSCTC titles and are out to continue their success at the regional level.
The Saints head into the 2012 Atlantic Regional Championship, which will help determine the field for the NCAA Championship the next weekend in Illinois, with an eye on a fourth straight regional championship and their fifth straight NCAA championship appearance. If they can keep the streak of regional titles alive...or even finish second...they will be guaranteed a spot in the championship field.
"Our goal is always to finish in the top two," said veteran Saint coach Mike Howard. "That takes all the guess-work out of who is going to go. The top five teams are eligible for the at large pool and historically over the last ten years or so, four or five teams from our region have gone on to the championship. We have five or more teams ranked nationally this season and our teams have run well out of region, so we are confident that the region will be well represented."
The Saints, who have won the NYSCTC and Liberty League titles on consecutive weekends, are seventh in the national poll and first in the region. SUNY Geneseo is 12th, NYU 14th, Rowan 26th, SUNY Plattsburgh 32nd and Rochester 35th among the 35 teams ranked in the most recent national poll. The Saints were the top Division III finisher in the Rochester Pre-Regional Invitational earlier in the season.
"We're not quite 100 percent heading into the weekend," Howard said. "A couple of our top five are rebounding from injury and sickness over the last couple of weeks. But, one of the keys to this team is that we have very good depth. Our four, five, six, seven and eight runners have come on really well, and despite setbacks, the girls have risen to the challenge in both the state and league meets.
"We have ten eligible runners for this week and next and that cast could change depending upon health and performance. There are still one or two spots up for grabs and from a coaching perspective, that is a good thing. In the past we have had a consistent top five, which is settling as a coach, but if something goes wrong, it can cost points. The depth this year has made me comfortable. We have a lot of interchangeable runners. I thought with our graduation losses and a transfer we might struggle a little at times, but the girls have worked hard and we have the best depth of our last four or five years," Howard said.
Eight different runners have finished among the top five for the Saints in different races this season and three different runners have won races. Junior Amy Cymerman who was a consistent four runner for the Saints last season, has come on strong late in the year and was the Saints top finisher in both the NYSCTC (2nd) and Liberty League (1st) championships. First Year Ella Martin has a win to her credit and has been the Saints' first or second finisher in every race this season while classmate Margaret MacDonald has the other race win to her credit and has been in the top five in every race among Saint finishers.
Ariel Beccia, a consistent three and four runner, ran injured in the Liberty League championship, but Anne Martino stepped up and delivered a fourth place finish. Senior Jackie Lemme has also been a consistent top seven runner for the Saints as has senior Caroline Raue.
"We have developed some front runners which will help in big meets," said Howard. "Ella and Amy are emerging and are potential top five finishers. They give us the one-two punch we need to compete at this level."