March 18, 2009

Holy Cross Women's Track & Field Set For Outdoor Season

March 18, 2009

By Anna Poulter-Hendrickson
Special to GoHolyCross.com

The Holy Cross women's track and field team returns to the track after a highly successful 2008 outdoor campaign. The Crusaders return 47 to a team that finished fourth in the Patriot League Outdoor Championships and welcomes 17 newcomers to the track. Holy Cross head coach Egetta Alfonso hopes to surpass last season's finish with a top three team score in 2009.

The Crusaders will be led by senior captains, Katie Clay (Beverly, Mass.), Katherine Clifford (Norwood, Mass.), Sophia Grammenos (Gardner, Mass.), Dannielle Meder (Chicopee, Mass.) and Lauren Tallon (Lake Forest, Ill.). Clay, who is currently injured, was a member of the third place ECAC qualifying 4x800 relay team. Clifford will compete in the javelin, hammer and discuss events for Holy Cross and is looking to qualify for the New England Outdoor Championships in all events. Grammenos and Tallon are vital members of the school record breaking 4x400 meter relay team, while Meder was named to the second team All-Patriot League squad for her second place finish in the 100 meter hurdles in a school-record time of 14.47. Together these seniors will lead the Crusaders to the top of the Patriot League.

Sprints

Junior Tiffany Reid (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.), sophomore M. Siobhan Straub (Mattituck, N.Y.), sophomore Caitlin White (Miller Place, N.Y.), Tallon and senior Lesley Bautista (St. John's, Newfoundland) return to lead the Crusader sprinters. Last season, Reid ran an impressive, school record breaking 24.26 in the 200 meter dash at the New England Outdoor Championships (May 8-10) and broke the 100 meter dash record with a time of 12.10 at Holy Cross (April 19). Reid returns this season looking to improve on where she left off last year. Reid, Bautista and Straub will lead the ECAC qualifying, 4x100 meter relay team. Last season, the relay team combined to break the school record with a time of 47.98 at the Patriot League Outdoor Championships (May 2). White finished 18th in the 100 meter dash at the New England Outdoor Championships (May 9-10) with a time of 12.94, while Tallon ran a personal-best in the 200 meter dash with a time of 26.44. This group of sprinters will burn up the track for Holy Cross.

Long Sprints

Seniors Tallon and Lauren Courtney (Ashland, Mass.) return to lead Holy Cross in the long sprint events. Together, Tallon and Courtney combined to place fifth and sixth in the 400 meter dash at the Patriot League Outdoor Championships (May 2). Tallon placed fifth with a time of 58.02, while Courtney finished sixth with a time of 58.05. At the New England Outdoor Championships (May 9-10), Courtney took fifth in the 400 meter dash with a time of 58.07, while Tallon finished sixth with a time of 58.09. Both Tallon and Courtney are looking to improve those times and set new personal-bests. Junior Olivia Pruszko (Monroe, Conn.) will also add to the Holy Cross depth in the long sprint events. Pruszko is the current Holy Cross school record holder in the 400 meter dash with a time of 57.64.

Mid-Distance/Distance

Junior Maureen Meagher (Allentown, Pa.), sophomore Courtney Burgess (Dracut, Mass.), senior Alexandra Swiatocha (Mahopac, N.Y.) and Clay return to lead Holy Cross in the mid-distance and distance events. A year ago, Meagher ran a 2:17.83 in the 800 meter run at the New England Outdoor Championships (May 9-10) and placed 14th at the Patriot League Outdoor Championships (May 3) with a time of 2:18.89. Swiatocha, Clay, Meagher and Burgess were members of the ECAC qualifying 4x800 meter relay team with a time of 9:19.31. Swiatocha will focus on mid-distance events this season, while freshmen Katelyn Hartnett (Danvers, Mass.) and Alison Nadeau (Norfolk, Mass.) will bolster the Holy Cross distance team.

Hurdles

Returners Meder and Pruszko will lead Holy Cross in the hurdle events. Meder is the current 100 meter hurdle school record holder, breaking the record at the Patriot League Outdoor Championships (May 2) with a time of 14.47. Pruszko set the school record in the 400 meter hurdles at the Patriot League Outdoor Championships (May 2) with a time of 62.49. Newcomer Erin Linnehan (Litchfield, N.H.) will have an immediate impact in the hurdle events for Holy Cross, as she has the ability to go under 15 seconds in the 100 meter hurdles.

Multi

Pentathlon record holder, Pruszko, returns to lead the Crusaders in the multi-events. Pruszko has owned the school record since the 2007 Patriot League Indoor Championships (Feb. 16) with 3,579 points. Pruszko is looking to transfer her pentathlon success to the heptathlon. Swiatocha led Holy Cross with a fifth place finish in the heptathlon at the New England Outdoor Championships (May 9-10) with 4,089 points, just 113 points shy of the school record. Together, Pruszko and Swiatocha will lead the Crusaders in the multi-events.

Throws & Jumps

Clifford, senior Rachel Amaral (Raynham, Mass.), junior Chantal Couture (Taunton, Mass.) and senior Jenna Hinchey (Orange, Conn.) will lead Holy Cross in the throwing events. Together, these throwers will headline a solid throwing group. Clifford and Amaral will lead the Crusaders in the hammer, discus and shot put. Last season, Clifford finished eleventh in the discus throw at the New England Outdoor Championships (May 9-10) with a throw of 38.29 meters and took 23rd in the hammer throw with a toss of 37.08 meters. Amaral finished 23rd in the shot put at the New England Outdoor Championships (May 9-10) with a throw of 11.58 meters and took eighth in the discus with a throw of 40.53 meters. Couture returns as the current school record holder in the javelin with a distance of 131'07" set at Holy Cross (April 19). Clifford and Hinchey were both point scorers in the javelin for Holy Cross at the New England Outdoor Championships (May 9-10). Clifford placed fifth with a throw of 121'09", while Hinchey placed sixth with a throw of 120'02". Freshman Alexandria Culkeen (Beverly, Mass.) will make a big mark for the Holy Cross throwers, as she has the ability to throw the shot put over 40'.

Seniors Bautista and Kelly Shaw (South Windsor, Conn.) will lead the Holy Cross jumpers to new heights and distances. Last season, Bautista set the school record in the pole vault with a height of 12'00" at Maine (Feb. 2). Bautista also took fourth in the pole vault at the New England Outdoor Championships (May 9-10) with a height of 3.5 meters. Shaw continues to improve her distance in the long jump and will be a leader for Holy Cross in the long jump events.

2009 Outdoor Schedule

The Crusaders will kick off the outdoor season on March 21 at the Husky Spring Invitational in Dedham, Mass. Holy Cross will travel to Bryant on March 28 and continue competition on the road at the Wildcat Invitational hosted by the University New Hampshire on April 4, before traveling to the Northeastern Invitational on April 11.

The Crusaders open the outdoor season at the Hart Track on April 15-16, when they host the Holy Cross Heptathlon/Decathlon. Holy Cross will then play host to Central Connecticut, RPI, Colgate, Hartford, Maine and Vermont on Saturday, April 18. Last season, the Crusaders took first at the home meet and are looking to repeat in 2009. Many of the times and distances posted by Holy Cross at the Hart Track were used for seed time in the Patriot League Outdoor Championships as this meet is a good indicator of Championship performances.

Holy Cross will hit the road, traveling to Brown for the Springtime Invitational on Sunday, April 26 before competing in the Patriot League Outdoor Championships in West Point, N.Y. on Friday-Saturday, May 1-2. The Crusaders are looking to improve on their fourth place finish a year ago and break into the top three.

All qualifying Crusaders will compete in the New England Outdoor Championships hosted by New Hampshire on Thursday-Saturday, May 7-9 and then conclude the season at the ECAC Outdoor Championships on Friday-Sunday, May 15-17 in Princeton, N.J.