Aug. 29, 2003
College Park, Md. - After one of the most successful seasons in recent history last year, the women's cross country team is set to embark on the 2003 campaign. With all but one runner returning from last year's squad, hopes are high for a successful year.
The team, though young, is quite experienced. At the front of the pack are sophomores Cori Koch and Katie Purcell, who completed each race they participated in last season as one of the top three Terp finishers. Purcell was the top Terps finisher on seven occasions, four of which placed her in the top five overall in the respective races.
Also expected to make significant contributions this year are sophomore Allison Carney and freshman Meghan Braffet. Carney ran in seven races last year, posting consistently strong times. Her best finish came in the last race of the year, where she finished second in the University Race at the ECAC/IC4A Championships. After training hard in the off-season, she's expected to build on that throughout the coming months.
Braffet, a 2002 Nike Athlete of the Week, enjoyed a highly successful high school career at Normal Community West High School in Illinois. She holds eight school records in a number of indoor and outdoor track events, and participated in the 2002 Mideast Meet of Champions in Kettering, Ohio, where she placed eighth with a time of 18:46.30.
Head Coach Trent Sanderson cites the team's unity as one of its strongest assets. The close-knit group will work together to rise in the ranks of the ACC this year. The team placed seventh in the conference championship last season, a feat Sanderson is quick to point out should not be overlooked.
"The ACC is easily one of the toughest conferences in the country," Sanderson said. "The six teams that finished ahead of us all made the trip to nationals last season."
Contributions from the lone senior Kim Smith and junior Courtney Fiorovanti could make a trip to nationals for the Terps possible. The duo, along with sophomores Becca Funk and Shari Gorga and freshmen Laurel Jefferson and Danielle Siebert, have worked diligently in the off-season, according to Sanderson.
"The team has worked incredibly hard in the off-season," Sanderson said. "I think they're starting to see the benefits of working hard and understand that the harder they work, the greater the rewards."
The key to the season will be finding runners that are willing to set the tempo and keep everyone going at a fast-pace--through every practice and every meet. The roster is deep and there are is room for everyone to succeed this season. With a strong central core of experienced runners and a group of promising newcomers on the way, there is the promise of a strong season in 2003.