Sacred Heart Wins 2013 NEC Women’s Cross Country Championship

LORETTO, Pa. – Bolstered by top-three finishes from Brianna Castrogivanni (Commack, N.Y.) and Elizabeth Hutchins (Pawcatuck, Conn.), the Sacred Heart women's cross country team won the 2013 Northeast Conference Championship Saturday at Immergrun Golf Club.

Castrogivanni was the Pioneers' top finisher, placing second in the 5K race in a time of 18:50. The senior finished fourth overall in last year's NEC Championship. Hutchins was right behind Castrogivanni in third place with a time of 19:05. Sacred Heart also got a top-10 performance from junior Emma Bolduc (Peterborough, N.H.), who finished eighth with a time of 19:48. Sophomore Shannon Hickey covered the course in 20:00 to finish 11th. Freshman Molly Barker (Weymouth, Mass.) rounded out the Pioneers' scoring group, finishing 20th in a time of 20:45.

The battle for the team title came down to the Pioneers and Bryant. Both teams combined to have nine runners finish in the top-20. In the end, it was Sacred Heart who bested the Bulldogs by nine points. Mount St. Mary's was third, followed by Robert Morris and Saint Francis U. This is Sacred Heart's first NEC women's cross country title since being co-champions with Quinnipiac in 2005.

"There are no high school superstars in this group," said head coach Christian Morrison about the 2013 NEC Champions. "We rarely get a blue chip recruit.  Instead, we have athletes who have worked, and sacrificed, and done everything right.  The improvements that Castrogivanni, Hutchins, Bolduc, and Hickey have made are simply off the charts... just unbelievable.  I am so proud to be the coach of this group."

The Pioneers will next run at the NCAA Northeast Regional at Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, N.Y. on Nov. 15.

Notes From Saturday's Meet 

- In the past three years, Brianna Castrogivanni has improved from 42nd to fourth and to second in NEC Championships. She also earned her second-consecutive All-NEC honor.

- Elizabeth Hutchins improved from 25th to third this year at the NEC Championship, earning All-NEC honors for the first time. 

- Shannon Hickey and Emma Bolduc also earned their first All-NEC honor on Saturday. In the last three years, Boldum has improved from 33rd to 17th to eighth. Hickey improved from 60th last year to 11th.