PHILADELPHIA – The Saint Joseph’s women’s track and field squad returns 39 letterwinners for the 2016-17 indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, including two Atlantic 10 champions and six program record-holders from last season alone. The Hawks welcome 19 freshman additions out of Pennsylvania (11), New Jersey (7), and New York (1) this year.

Second-year head coach Melody O’Reilly has selected senior long sprinter Courtney Foster, fifth-year senior long sprinter and hurdler Dannah Hayward, senior long sprinter Kiersten Moylan, senior high jumper and hurdler Emely Ramirez, and the senior distance duo of Sydney Coughlin and Sarah Regnault to captain the Hawks this year.

“It is a strong but diverse group,” said O’Reilly of her captains.

The Hawks open the 2016-17 indoor season this Saturday, December 3 at Villanova’s Jack Pyrah Invitational, to be held at Haverford College in Haverford, Pa. Tentatively scheduled, field events will begin at 11:00 a.m. while running events will run from noon through 3:20 p.m. For the full schedule of events, please click here.

SHORT SPRINTS
Sophomore short sprinter Nathaniela Bourdeau, who was selected the squad’s “Best Freshman" last year, scored in four individual sprint events between the Atlantic 10 Indoor Championships and Atlantic 10 Outdoor Championships, placing second in the outdoor 200m, fourth in both the indoor 200m and outdoor 100m, and fifth in the indoor 60m as a rookie. She then went on to race the 200m at both the ECAC Indoor Championships and ECAC Outdoor Championships, placing 16th during the indoor season and improving to 13th overall at the outdoor meet. Bourdeau turned in SJU’s top seven times in the 60m (7.69), top six times in the indoor 200m (24.84), top four times in the outdoor 200m (24.55), and top five times in the 100m (12.19).

“I expect great things from Nat this year,” said O’Reilly. “She had a great summer of strength and conditioning training. With that extra power and control, Nat is going to be a force again this year. She came in and made her mark right away last year, and I expect she’ll continue to do what she has been doing.”

Classmate Kelly Liebl also broke through as a strong sprinter during her rookie campaign, claiming sixth place in the 400m at indoor A-10s. Liebl went on to almost make the A-10 finals in the outdoor 200m with a ninth-place showing in the preliminaries.

With a year under her belt, Liebl can now be found at the front of the pack during training.

“Kelly is looking strong and will again be an asset to our team,” said O’Reilly.

Senior Carly Montgomery, junior Nia Dupiche, and sophomore Janiece Murray will round out SJU’s returning short sprinters, while freshmen Caroline Duffy (Collegeville, Pa./Methacton), Caroline Feola (Manalapan, N.J./Freehold Township), Samantha Spallanzani (Colts Neck, N.J./Red Bank Catholic), and Aliyah Stokes (Philadelphia, Pa./Academy of Notre Dame de Namur) will add depth to the group.

LONG SPRINTS
Senior captain Courtney Foster and fifth-year senior captain Dannah Hayward will lead a veteran group of long sprinters, highlighted by six total seniors, into the 2016-17 indoor and outdoor seasons.

“As a whole, the long sprints group is much more comfortable with the workouts this year,” said O’Reilly, as the Hawks enter their second year under a new training plan. “I think that we will see the results this year.”

A three-time Atlantic 10 point scorer in the 400m, Foster finished third at the A-10 Indoor Championships and fifth at outdoor A-10s last year and represented SJU in the event at the 2016 ECAC Indoor Championships. The senior is coming off of a junior season in which she broke the program records in both the indoor 400m (56.16) and outdoor 400m (55.03).

“Courtney had a great summer of training and is back in the preseason looking incredibly strong,” said O’Reilly. “I expect her to pick up not too far off from where she left off.”

A two-time ECAC All-East selection and two-time A-10 point scorer in the 500m, Hayward turned in sixth-place 500m finishes at both the A-10 and ECAC indoor meets last year. Hayward owns the program record in the 500m (1:13.96), set in 2013, and turned in SJU’s top five times in the event last year, led by a season-best time of 1:14.05.

Seniors Ashley Gerald, Katie Koss, Angelena Minniti, and Kiersten Moylan round out SJU’s experienced senior class. Gerald (57.78) and Koss (57.66) both turned in sub-58.00 times in the 400m last outdoor season. Minniti is coming off of a junior season in which she set new collegiate-best times in both the 400m (58.23) and 500m (1:17.27), set at the A-10 indoor and outdoor meets, respectively, while Moylan flew to a sub-2:20 800m for the first time in her collegiate career at Princeton, in 2:19.76, last April.

Juniors Alex Edger, Rose O’Brien, Steph Toland, and Ariana Wilson, sophomore Elizabeth Del Rio, and freshmen Tamar Bourdeau (Hudson, Pa./James M. Coughlin), Karley Hess (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville), Monica Higgins (Lafayette Hill, Pa./Plymouth-Whitemarsh), Maggie Maguire (Doylestown, Pa./Gwynedd-Mercy Academy), Samantha Mayers (Pittston, Pa./Pittston Area), and Sophia Recchilungo (Wayne, Pa./Academy of Notre Dame de Namur) will round out the long sprints group.

MIDDLE DISTANCE
Transitioning over from the cross country trails, seniors Sarah Regnault and Sydney Coughlin will captain the middle distance and distance groups this year.

The defending Atlantic 10 champion in the 1000m, Regnault is coming into her final indoor track and field season after an outstanding fall on the trails, where she consistently scored as SJU’s #3 runner and placed 20th overall at the A-10 Championship. The last time Regnault raced the 1000m, just two weeks after claiming the A-10 gold medal, she recorded a collegiate-best time of 2:54.73 for a top-20 finish at the ECAC Indoor Championships.

Coughlin followed Regnault for a fourth-place finish at indoor A-10s last winter and went on to also post her collegiate-best 1000m time (2:54.16) for 13th at ECACs. The senior co-captain was sidelined by injury this past fall, but if healthy, will be one of SJU’s top contributors from the 800m through the mile this year.

2016 All-ECAC and All-Conference cross country selections in junior Cassidy Weimer and sophomore Lindsey Oremus will trade in the trails for the track this winter and spring. Weimer placed sixth in the 1500m in a collegiate-best time of 4:37.78 at outdoor A-10s last spring, while Oremus, who raced to a season-best mile time of 5:02.58 at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex as a rookie, will focus on the 3000m for her sophomore campaign.

“Cassidy is coming on like crazy, and Lindsey had a fantastic cross country season as our top runner,” said O’Reilly. “They’re both excited.”

Transitioning in from the long sprints group to the middle distance group this season is junior Caroline Keegan, and if her results on the track match her results on the trails from this past fall, the results will certainly be noteworthy. In just her first cross country season for the Hawks, Keegan finished as SJU’s #5 runner at the A-10 Championship, NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, and ECAC Championship to score at all three meets.  

“This has been a big year for Caroline as she adjusted over to cross country,” said O’Reilly. “She’s going to go after the 800m this year.”

Keegan’s collegiate-best 800m time stands at 2:20.79, set during her freshman outdoor season, at Lehigh.

O’Reilly also noted a pair of sophomores in Elaine Estes and Lucy Harmon who have the potential to factor into the mix. Estes made a roster spot for the A-10 Championship this past fall and has really come into her own as a racer, while Harmon has looked very strong in workouts leading up to this Saturday’s season opener.

Seniors Katelyn Ambrose and Maggie Malloy, junior Megan O’Dowd, and sophomore Julia Donahue will round out SJU’s returning middle distance group, while freshmen Emily Bracken (West Chester, Pa./Bishop Shanahan), Annie Knabb (Reading, Pa./Exeter Township), Abigail McGann (Cranford, N.J./Mount Saint Mary Academy), Emily Schaeffer (Mullica Hill, N.J./Clearview Regional), and Michaela Urbach (Cherry Hill, N.J./Paul VI) enter their first track and field seasons donning the Crimson and Gray. Of note, Bracken was one of two rookies to earn a roster spot for all three cross country championship races this past fall and finished as SJU’s #7 runner at ECACs.

3000M STEEPLECHASE
The last time senior Julia Jenkins raced the 3000m steeplechase, she went sub-11:00 (10:59.80) for the first time in her collegiate career to take home a sixth-place, three-point finish at the 2016 Atlantic 10 Outdoor Championships. The senior, who also set PRs in both the 1500m (4:56.24) and 3000m (10:23.31) last season, returns as a two-time point scorer at the A-10 level, and is expected to lead the Hawks in the event this May.

Jenkins will mentor freshman newcomer Joanna DeSousa (Massapequa, NY./Plainedge), who ran a 2k steeplechase time of 7:34.11 at the Section VII State Qualifier Meet last June.

DISTANCE
Led by senior veterans June Chiango and Alexandra Fiesel, Saint Joseph’s returning distance group will be comprised of a pair of seniors and a trio of sophomores.

Chiango, who is expected to bring senior leadership to the group, turned in her collegiate-best times in the 3000m (10:44.64), indoor 5000m (18:03.09), and outdoor 5000m (18:25.27) last year and is SJU’s returning leader in the 10,000m (39:29.60), posted at the Colonial Relays early last spring.

Fiesel will look to excel in the 3000m and 5000m events for her final go-around. She closed last year’s outdoor season with three consecutive 5k races, beginning with a win in the event (18:13.07 PR) at the Rider Invitational.

“We are optimistic of Alex’s senior season,” said O’Reilly. “She had such a great spring, and truly found herself in that 5000m. She’s not looking back at the middle distance events this year.”

The sophomore group of Britton Gagliardi, who leads the trio in the 3000m (10:15.50) and 5000m (17:53.50), Erin McGuire, and Sara Rankin will race the 3000m and 5000m, while freshmen Rose Barrett (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Township) and Meridith Twomey (Yardley, Pa./Pennsbury) are also expected to race the longer distances this year. Of note, Twomey was one of two rookies to earn a roster spot for all three cross country championship races this past fall and finished as SJU’s #4 runner at the A-10 Championship, NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, and ECAC Championship.

RELAYS
All three of SJU’s championship-level indoor relays - 4x400m relay (3:50.83), 4x800m relay (9:27.21), and Distance Medley Relay (school-record 11:44.77) - turned in season-best times at the 2016 ECAC Indoor Championships last March.

11 of those 12 legs return in 2016-17, with sophomore Kelly Liebl, senior Angelena Minniti, senior Ashley Gerald, and senior Katie Koss on the 4x4, sophomore Lindsey Oremus, junior Caroline Keegan, senior Kiersten Moylan, and junior Cassidy Weimer on the 4x8, and senior Courtney Foster, senior Sarah Regnault, and senior Sydney Coughlin on the DMR; the DMR’s lead-off leg will look to be replaced as the Hawks lose graduate Lauren Hehir from the unit.

SJU’s two major championship-level outdoor relays - 4x400m relay (3:49.12) and 4x800m relay (9:02.09) - turned in season-best times at the 2016 ECAC Outdoor Championships last May.

All eight of those legs return in Koss, Foster, junior Steph Toland, and fifth-year senior Dannah Hayward on the 4x4 and Regnault, Coughlin, Weimer, and Moylan on the 4x8.

Koss, Gerald, Hayward, and Foster own the program record in the indoor 4x4 (3:49.15), while Foster, Gerald, and Hayward share the program record in the outdoor 4x4 (3:47.31). Foster, Regnault, and Coughlin share the program record in the indoor DMR (11:44.77), while Foster and Koss ran the first two legs on the program-record Sprint Medley Relay (4:04.54) back in 2014.

HURDLES    
40th-place finish at the 2016 NCAA East Preliminary Rounds. 2016 Atlantic 10 champion. Two-time ECAC All-East Team selection. Three-time Atlantic 10 point scorer. Saint Joseph’s program recordholder in 1:00.04, set last year.

This could be a very big year in the 400m hurdles for fifth-year senior captain Dannah Hayward.

After placing seventh at the A-10 meet as a freshman in 2013, Hayward improved to fourth in 2015 before winning the gold medal last year. Hayward is coming off of a season in which she earned her highest-ever finish at the ECAC meet (6th) and a season in which she found herself among the top 48 hurdlers in the East at the NCAA East Preliminaries. 

“She’s looking good in practice,” said O’Reilly. “She is well-rested and mentally ready. She feels really good about that this year.”

Junior Steph Toland will also see opportunities to impact the Hawks in the 400m hurdles. After clocking in at 1:05.26 as a freshman, Toland took over an entire second off of that time to clock in at a season-best time of 1:03.82 at Lehigh last April, before placing ninth at the 2016 Atlantic 10 Outdoor Championships in May. Toland also owns collegiate-best times in the 60m hurdles (9.39) and 100m hurdles (16.04), set as a freshman.

“Steph is going to contribute this year quite a bit,” said O’Reilly. “She’s older, wiser, stronger, and more confident.”

Senior captain Emely Ramirez races the 60m hurdles (9.20 PR) and 100m hurdles (15.56 PR) and has placed in the A-10’s top 15 in both events, while juniors Rose O’Brien (400H) and Ariana Wilson (60H), sophomore Bridget McNierney (100H, 400H), and freshmen Tamar Bourdeau (Hudson, Pa./James M. Coughlin), Emily Clayton (Brick, N.J./Brick Township Memorial), and Caroline Duffy (Collegeville, Pa./Methacton) will round out SJU’s hurdlers.

JUMPS
A 2016 NCAA East Preliminary Rounds qualifier and four-time Atlantic 10 silver medalist in the high jump, junior Claudine Andre returns for her third indoor and outdoor seasons. Andre hit her collegiate-best mark in the high jump (1.75m) at the Atlantic 10 Outdoor Championships last spring and tied the program record in the indoor high jump (1.73m) at Penn State last winter. She also turned in fifth- and ninth-place finishes in the high jump at the ECAC Indoor Championships and ECAC Outdoor Championships, respectively.

As a sophomore.  

“Claudine has a new confidence about her this year, and it’s going to carry her into a great junior season,” said O’Reilly. “She seems composed and ready to go. The NCAA regional meet is when it started to click for her. That was a great experience for her, to go down there and jump against some of the best in the country. She grew up a lot at that meet.”  

Senior high jumper Emely Ramirez has improved upon her indoor and outdoor PRs every year since her rookie season, and turned in a collegiate-best mark of 1.65m at Princeton last spring. The captain of the group, Ramirez placed 11th at indoor A-10s and improved to ninth at outdoor A-10s.

O’Reilly feels that this could be Ramirez’s time to put forward scoring performances.

“Emely is very consistent and has been on the brink many times,” said O’Reilly. “I’m hoping that in this being her senior year, being that close brings her confidence in the high jump.”

Senior high jumper Katie Gross (1.50m PR) has also shown great confidence and focus in workouts this fall, while O’Reilly notes junior long (4.97m PR) and triple (10.59m PR) jumper Aarynn Crawley as a “hard-working, reliable performer.”

Sophomore long jumpers Kelly Liebl (5.18m PR) and Bridget McNierney (5.15m PR) will round out SJU’s returners, while freshmen Emily Clayton (Brick, N.J./Brick Township Memorial), Caroline Feola (Manalapan, N.J. (Freehold Township), and Samantha Spallanzani (Colts Neck, N.J./Red Bank Catholic) will also compete in the jumps for the Hawks this year.  

PENTATHLON/HEPTATHLON
Sophomore Jessica Knobloch will compete in the pentathlon, which consists of the high jump, 60m hurdles, shot put, long jump, and 800m, this indoor season and the heptathlon, which consists of the high jump, long jump, 100m hurdles, 200m, 800, shot put, and javelin, during the spring. Knobloch turned in collegiate-best marks in both the high jump (1.48m) and long jump (4.21m) at Lehigh last April and ran her only 200m of the year (31.93) at Lehigh’s Rauch Field House in January.

“It’s a big change for her this year, and she’s excited about it,” said O’Reilly. “The high jump is her most comfortable event, so we’ll open with the high jump, 200m, and shot put at Haverford on Saturday.”

Kayla Charles ’15 holds the school records in both the pentathlon (3,274 points) and heptathlon (4,562 points).  

SCHEDULE   
The Hawks will open January with back-to-back weekends of meets at the Wagner Collegiate Invitational (Jan. 6), and Lehigh Angry Birds Invitational (Jan. 14) before splitting up to compete at both the Penn 8 Team Select and Ursinus Collegeville Classic on January 21. The Hawks will close out the month of January at the two-day Penn State National Invitational (Jan. 27-28).

Saint Joseph’s will open February with Yale’s Geigengack Invitational (Feb. 3-4) before heading to both the Fastrack National Invitational (Feb. 10) and Monmouth Winter Invitational (Feb. 11) the following weekend.

The Wagner Collegiate Invitational, Penn 8 Team Select, and Fastrack National Invitational will all be held at the Ocean Breeze Facility in Staten Island, N.Y.

The 2017 Atlantic 10 Indoor Championships will be held at George Mason University’s Field House in Fairfax, Va. from February 17-19.

Saint Joseph’s will have one more ECAC-qualifying opportunity at the Fastrack Last Chance Invitational, to be held at the Ocean Breeze Facility on February 25, before qualifiers head to the 2017 ECAC Championships at Boston University’s Track and Tennis Center from March 3-5.

The 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships will run from March 10-11 at the Texas A&M University’s Gilliam Indoor Stadium in College Station, Texas.

Saint Joseph’s will open the outdoor season on Saturday, March 25 at the 22nd Annual Monmouth Season Opener in West Long Branch, N.J. before heading down to Williamsburg, Va. for the 52nd Annual Colonial Relays, set March 30 through April 1. The Hawks will split up over the course of the next six meets, racing both the Princeton Sam Howell Invitational (Apr. 7) and Rider Invitational (Apr. 8) as well as the Princeton Larry Ellis Invitational (Apr. 21-22) and Widener Invitational (Apr. 21-22) before heading to Penn Relays (Apr. 27-29) and Lehigh Games (Apr. 29) to cap the regular season.

The 2017 Atlantic 10 Outdoor Championships will be held at UMass’ Track and Field Complex in Amherst, Mass. From May 5-7.

Qualifiers will then compete at the ECAC Championships at Princeton University’s Weaver Stadium from May 12-14.

The Swarthmore Last Chance Meet on May 15 will provide the Hawks with one final NCAA-qualifying opportunity, followed by the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds, hosted by the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky. from May 25-27. Saint Joseph’s was represented in the 400m hurdles and high jump at the 2016 NCAA East Preliminary Rounds.

The NCAA Outdoor Championships will take place from June 7-10 at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.

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