PHILADELPHIA – The Saint Joseph’s women’s cross country squad is set to race the 2016 Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championship this Saturday, October 29. Hosted by the University of Richmond at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, Va. for the third time in four years, the 5k race is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. The Hawks, who finished seventh a year ago, were predicted to place eighth this fall, according to the A-10’s preseason poll, with voting conducted by the league’s 14 head coaches back in late August.
The race will be streamed live and free of charge on the Atlantic 10 Network, weather permitting. Click here to watch the Hawks race on Saturday.
“Putting everyone in a 5k setting gives us that confidence,” said second-year head coach Melody O’Reilly. “If we run to our potential, I believe we can come away with a top-five finish. It should be really good. We look strong.”
The Hawks finished 13th at Schenley Park in Pittsburgh, Pa. in 2014 and sixth at Pole Green Park in 2013 and turned in their last top-five finish in 2011 (5th). SJU’s last A-10 title came in 2000.
The 10 Hawks to represent SJU at the 2016 A-10 Cross Country Championship will be senior captain Sarah Regnault and classmate Julia Jenkins, juniors Caroline Keegan and Cassidy Weimer, sophomores Elaine Estes, Britton Gagliardi, and Lindsey Oremus, and freshmen Emily Bracken, Emily Schaeffer, and Meridith Twomey.
Saint Joseph’s returns three scorers from last season’s championship team in Regnault (19th), Oremus (22nd), and Gagliardi (37th) in addition to Weimer (66th) and Jenkins (68th), SJU’s #6 and #7 runners. Keegan, Estes, Bracken, Schaeffer, and Twomey will all race their first A-10 Championship meets. The Hawks will look to fill the vacancy of graduate Lauren Hehir (33rd), who finished as SJU’s #3 runner a season ago.
In terms of experience of the championship-caliber level, exactly half of the group has raced at the A-10 level as Regnault has raced Pole Green Park twice (2013, 2015), Jenkins is coming off of back-to-back A-10 appearances (2014, 2015), and Weimer, Oremus, and Gagliardi all raced last season’s meet. O’Reilly will look to their leadership to help the newcomers.
“With the five runners that have raced Pole Green Park, there are no surprises with the course, which is huge for their confidence,” said O’Reilly. “I am counting on their experience to lead the five runners who haven’t seen the course.”
Oremus, who has led the Hawks in every meet this season and ran her collegiate-best 5k race (18:03.9) at Pole Green Park last fall, is expected to lead the Crimson and Gray into Saturday’s race.
“Lindsey has been our top runner all season,” said O’Reilly “She is looking very strong in workouts and is confident right now. I would expect her to be my frontrunner.”
O’Reilly expects her next two, Regnault and Weimer, to close the gap behind Oremus. Regnault led all Hawks at A-10s last year with an 18th-place showing in a collegiate-best time of 18:00.1, while Weimer’s 2016 season-opening 5k time of 18:46.3 stands as her collegiate-best.
“Sarah and Cassidy are really ready to go," said O'Reilly. "Sarah is truly an Atlantic 10 Championship performer and rises to the occasion. She is a very smart racer and knows when to go, and Cassidy has come on like crazy this season.”
SJU’s 4-7 spots will be as close as can be with Jenkins, Gagliardi, Bracken, and Twomey in the mix, a “toss-up on the day,” according to O’Reilly. Jenkins and Gagliardi have come on strongly at training and in meets, respectively, heading into A-10s this Saturday while rookies Bracken and Twomey have been consistent factors in SJU’s top seven this season.
After turning in strong first seasons on the cross country squad, Keegan, Estes, and Schaeffer will round out the Hawks’ Championship 10.
The All-Conference team consists of the top 15 finishers, while the Most Outstanding Rookie award is given to the highest-placing freshman in each race.
2015 Atlantic 10 Championship 2013 Atlantic 10 Championship
Pole Green Park 5k Times Pole Green Park 5k Times
Sarah Regnault - 18:00.1 (5k PR) Sarah Regnault - 19:19.70
Lindsey Oremus - 18:03.9 (5k PR)
Britton Gagliardi - 18:22.4 (5k PR)
Cassidy Weimer - 18:49.3
Julia Jenkins - 18:49.7 (5k PR)