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2019 XC Nationals: Women’s Individual Preview

November 14th, 2019

A chink in the armor of Stein or false hope for the field? Deepest field in recent memory will result in a large lead pack.

14 of the top 20 runners from 2018 Nationals return this year making it a deep field with top end talent but many others have run some strong times and will look to challenge the status quo and break into the top 30 as they seek to become an All-American. 

 

How could you possibly begin a preview of the individual runners at Nationals by not starting with the reigning champion and fastest woman in NIRCA, Suzanne Stein.  After sweeping Regionals and Nationals in 2018, Stein is halfway there after finishing first at the Mid-Atlantic Regional with a time of 21:44, the fastest time posted at any Regional this year.  Suzanne did suffer her first NIRCA XC defeat since finishing second at the 2017 Nationals, as she finished sixth at the Nittany Lion Invitational. Teammate Baylee Robey did not run at Regionals but finished second at the Nittany Lion Invitational, finished ninth in 2018, and will expect to find herself an All-American again.  

 

Virginia Tech may have stunned others by finishing first at the Mid-Atlantic Regional, but Elizabeth Buckley and Katherine Wardinski never had any doubt.  The pair finished second and third, respectively, giving Buckley two second place finishes this year and Wardinski two third place finishes this year.  Expect them to lead the Hokies and both end up All-Americans, making Buckley a back-to-back All-American after finishing 16th last year. Junior Emma Martin from American is in her first year with NIRCA and came out of nowhere to claim fourth at Regionals, but she won’t have the element of surprise at Nationals.  Pittsburgh claimed third at Regionals thanks to a fifth and sixth place finish by Caroline Roumpz, 66th in 2018, and Kristen Fast.  Their times of 22:21 and 22:33 are among the top ten fastest times run at a Regional this year making them strong candidates to end up as All-Americans.

 

Purdue and Michigan look set to do battle once again this year as each have a shot at multiple All-Americans.  Michigan’s Fab Four of Anna Piccione, Audrey Ladd, Alison McLean, and Amberlee Kreis all finished in the top 20 last year and are likely to repeat, if not improve on that performance.  At Regionals they all finished in the top six with Ladd finishing first, Piccioe third, Kreis, fifth, and McLean sixth, with Ladd and Piccione’s times being in the top ten fastest regional times this year.  Lauren Orr from Purdue finished third at Nationals in 2018 but had a disappointing finish at Regionals and hasn’t been able to finish with a time below 25:00 yet this season; however, she is an experienced runner and cannot be counted out.  Orr’s teammate, Emme Keesling ran very well at Regionals, finishing second with a time of 22:24, good for the seventh fastest regional time this season.  Keesling just missed All-American honors as she finished 35th at Nationals last year but with a pair of second place finishes and a first place finish this season, we can expect to see her near the front all race.  Charlotte Etienne from Michigan State will be running in her fourth Nationals race and has improved each year, 28th in 2016, 12th in 2017, and fifth in 2018.  Etienne is among the most consistent runners in the field having finished with a time between 22:08 and 23:18 in her last nine NIRCA XC races and will be in contention for a top place finish this year.

 

With second and third place Northwestern and Wisconsin not sending a full squad to Nationals, Illinois is the pride of the Great Plains Regional.  Illinois’ fastest returning runner from 2018 Nationals is Julia Schultz, who finished 17th, and finished third at Regionals this year with a time of 23:32.  Schultz isn’t the Illini’s fastest runner this year though, that would be Sophomore Natalie Sarris, who finished first at the Great Plains Regional.  With Regionals being her only NIRCA race this year, we’ll have to see if that result was a flash in the pan or the start of an illustrious NIRCA career.  Schultz and Sarris’ other teammate, Grace Gudwien, finished 30th in 2018 and second at Regionals this year.  Watch for them to band together through the first half of the race as they try to work together to achieve individual and team success.

 

Senior Caroline Pennachio of Dartmouth has had a very successful NIRCA season with two first place finishes.  Pennachio finished first at the Northeast Regional by 0:26 seconds over second place so one must wonder how she will do with a stronger pack of runners who may push her too early or give her the extra motivation she needs to run faster than her winning 23:09 time.  Emma Saart from Boston College was that second place finisher and led BC to a second place team finish.  With a two first and two second place finishes this season, the Junior is ready to face stiffer competition at Nationals and challenge for an All-American spot.

 

Jennifer Mohler of NC State finished eighth in 2018 and first at the Southeast Regional with a time of 23:48, a full 1:30 slower than her time at Nationals.  If she hopes to achieve All-American honors again she’ll need to cut that time down. Bridget Sullivan of North Carolina finished 15th in 2018 and fifth at Regionals.  Similar to Mohler, Sullivan will need to cut down on her time if she has aspirations of repeating as an All-American.  Shannon Gifford from Stanford finished first at the Pacific Regional with a time of 23:25 and will be running in Richmond with teammate Nicole Ticea who did not participate at Regionals but finished seventh at Nationals in 2018.  Also from out west are a pair of Oregon State runners, Casey Sauter and Zoe Simmons, who led the Beavers to a Regional Championship thanks to a second and third place finish respectively.



Other runners to watch for:

Ally Suyak, Miami (OH)

Ashleigh Warner, Duke

Barrett Gray, Princeton 

Caitlyn Walsh, Cincinnati 

Camille Bromley, Penn State

Chloe Connor, Penn State

Gabby Rao, Northeastern 

Haley Kappey, Maryland 

Isabelle Luke, Boston College

Kate Eckart, Maryland 

Maggie Hudson, Virginia Commonwealth

Margo Brown, Virginia Commonwealth

May Robison, Virginia

Nell Haney, Georgetown 

Nina Bouthier, Purdue 

Sarah Seay, Virginia Tech



Prediction:

1st - Suzanne Stein, Penn State

2nd - Anna Piccione, Michigan

3rd - Elizabeth Buckley, Virginia Tech

 

 

Highest Returning Finishers from 2018

Suzanne Stein, Penn State, 1st

Lauren Orr, Purdue, 3rd

Anna Piccione, Michigan, 4th

Charlotte Etienne, Michigan State, 5th

Nicole Ticea, Stanford, 7th

Jennifer Mohler, NC State, 8th

Baylee Robey, Penn State, 9th

Barrett Gray, Princeton, 10th

Audre Ladd, Michigan, 13th

Bridgette Sullivan, North Carolina, 15th

Elizabeth Buckley, Virginia Tech, 16th

Julia Schultz, Illinois, 17th

Alison McLean, Michigan, 18th

Amberlee Kreis, Michigan, 19th

 

NIRCA Women’s National Champion 

Year

Champion

College/University

Time

Course

2018

Suzanne Stein

Penn State

21:21

Masterson Station Park, Lexingon, KY

2017

Katelyn McCracken

Duke

22:04

Forest Akers Course, East Lansing, MI

2016

Katelyn McCracken

Duke

22:10

Parkview XC Course, Hershey, PA

2015

Kaitlyn Johnson

Georgetown

22:00

Masterson Station Park, Lexington, KY

2014

Cara Donohue

Minnesota

22:24

Forest Akers Course, East Lansing, MI

2013

Betsy Suda

Florida

22:22

Parkview XC Course, Hershey, PA

2012

Becky Boyle

Indiana

22:31

Parkview XC Course, Hershey, PA

2011

Betsy Suda

Florida

21:27

McAlpine Creek Park, Charlotte, NC

2010

Danelle Woods

Illinois

21:54

IU XC Course, Bloomington, IN

2009

Lauren Philbrook

Penn State

21:59

Eagle Crest Golf Course, Ypsilanti, MI

2008

Kelsey Armstrong

Clemson

22:30

Penn State Golf Course, University Park, PA

2007

Jen Laser

Indiana

23:45

IU XC Course, Bloomington, IN

2006

Ruth Mick

Penn State

22:35

Lock Haven XC Course, Lock Haven, PA

 

All-Time Top 25 6k Performances at NIRCA XC Nationals

Ranking

Runner

College/University

Time

Course

Year

1

Suzanne Stein

Penn State

21:21

Masterson Station Park

2018

2

Besty Suda

Florida

21:27

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

3

Lucy Hilarides

Purdue

21:33

Masterson Station Park

2018

4

Lauren Orr

Purdue

21:39

Masterson Station Park

2018

5

Becky Boyle

Indiana

21:42

McAlpine Creek Park

2011

6

Danelle Woods

Illinois

21:54

Indiana XC Course

2010

7

Lauren Philbrook

Penn State

21:59

Eagle Crest Golf Course

2009

T8

Kaitlyn Johnson

Georgetown

22:00

Masterson Station Park

2015

T8

Anna Piccione

Michigan

22:00

Masterson Station Park

2018

T10

Cassi Knight

Penn State

22:04

Indiana XC Course

2010

T10

Katelyn McCracken

Duke

22:04

Forest Akers Golf Course

2017

12

Charlotte Etienne

Michigan State

22:08

Masterson Station Park

2018

13

Christina LaRitz

Boston College

22:09

Masterson Station Park

2018

14

Katelyn McCracken

Duke

22:10

Hershey Parkview Course

2016

15

Nicole Ticea

Stanford

22:10

Masterson Station Park

2018

T16

Lauren Philbrook

Penn State

22:13

Indiana XC Course

2010

T16

Suzanne Stein

Penn State

22:14

Forest Akers Golf Course

2017

T18

Kristen Mohrer

Oregon

22:15

Eagle Crest Golf Course

2009

T18

Jennifer Mohler

NC State

22:15

Masterson Station Park

2018

20

Baylee Robey

Penn State

22:16

Masterson Station Park

2018

21

Barrett Gray

Princeton

22:17

Masterson Station Park

2018

22

Emma Burkhardt

Illinois

22:18

Masterson Station Park

2018

T23

Shannon MacMaster

Maryland

22:20

Masterson Station Park

2018

T23

Audrey Ladd

Michigan

22:20

Masterson Station Park

2018

25

Megan  Mocogni

Illinois

22:21

Masterson Station Park

2015

 

Written by: Michael Potter & Patrick Kenney


Michael Potter, NIRCA

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