FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Sacred Heart head cross country head Christian Morrison has announced the women's cross country team's schedule for the upcoming 2019 campaign. The slate features six regular season meets leading up to the Northeast Conference Championships in early November. In addition, the Pioneers were picked third in the NEC Preseason Coaches' Poll, as announced by the league office on Twitter this afternoon.
Coach Morrison has varied his schedule in 2019 with the addition of the UMass Invitational (Sept. 7) and the CCSU Mini Meet (Oct. 25) while still making treks to four meets the Pioneers competed in last season.
The campaign opens on August 31 with the Stony Brook Invitational before the Pioneers head to Amherst for the UMass Invitational on September 7. The Pioneers will then enjoy a three-week spell until the team's next meet on September 28 with the Ted Owen Invitational. This meet serves as a tune-up for SHU as the race is held at Stanley Quarter Park in New Britain, Connecticut, the host site of the 2019 NEC Championships. SHU has finished first at this event two straight seasons.
Competition ramps up in the month of October with three meets, starting with the New England Championships at Franklin Park in Boston on October 12. The following weekend, the Pioneers head back up to the Green Mountain State for the Vermont Invitational, a meet in which SHU participated in last season. The month finishes with the CCSU Mini Meet on October 25, providing another competition previewing the conference championship meet at Stanley Quarter Park.
The championship season begins on November 2 with the NEC Championships scheduled to go off at 11 AM in New Britain. The NCAA Northeast Regional will be held at the Audubon Golf Course this season on November 15 in Amherst, New York. The season closes with qualified runners competing in the ECAC Championship held at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx or at the NCAA National Championships held in Indiana on November 23.
Sacred Heart envisions a return to form in 2019 as the Pioneers won four NEC titles over a five-year span (2013-17) prior to their third-place finish in 2018. A six-time NEC Champion since 2005, the Pioneers have lofty goals this season and feel they have the talent to make a return to glory.
The Pioneers will have to replace one of the top runners in program history as four-time All-NEC performer Tara Connelly has graduated. Returning to the fold in 2019 is a bevy of experience as both senior Jacqueline Thorne (7th place) and junior Olivia Weiss (11th) return following breakout performances at the 2018 NEC Championships in which both earned their first career All-NEC honors.
Sophomore Gaelyn Kattman just missed All-NEC honors as well as the Rookie of the Year crown as she placed 17th at last year's NEC Championship while finishing as the second-fastest first-year in the competition. Providing great depth this season is senior Jody DiCicco, junior Bonnie Wilder and senior Bianca De Lucia, all of which finished Top 30 in the NEC Championships last season.
After a breakthrough performance that saw CCSU capture its first NEC title since 1999, the Blue Devils are picked first in the NEC Preseason Coaches' Poll, earning six first place votes. Sitting second in the poll is last year's runner-up in St. Francis U, picking up three first place votes. The Pioneers earned the remaining two first place votes, good enough for third place in the poll. Rounding out the poll is Mount St. Mary's, Wagner, Robert Morris, Merrimack, Bryant, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU and St. Francis Brooklyn.
2019 NEC Women's Cross Country Preseason Coaches' Poll
- CCSU (6 First-Place Votes)
- St. Francis U (3)
- Sacred Heart (2)
- Mount St. Mary's
- Robert Morris
- Fairleigh Dickinson
- St. Francis Brooklyn