Women's Cross Country Picked Third in AE Preseason Poll

DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire women's cross country team was selected to finish third in the 2011 America East Preseason Coaches' Poll that was released Wednesday by the league office.

For the fourth consecutive season, Stony Brook was picked to capture the league title as the Seawolves garnered six first-place votes for a total of 62 points. Boston University came in second with a pair of first-place votes, totaling 54 points, while UNH secured the final top vote and 50 points. Maine and Vermont each racked up 38 points to tie for the fourth spot, while Albany (37), Binghamton (21), UMBC (16) and Hartford (8) rounded out the final four slots.

New Hampshire is coming off a second-place finish at last year's America East Championships and a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regional.

The Wildcats will be led by a strong group of veteran runners, starting with senior co-captain Sydney Fitzpatrick (Billerica, Mass.), who was named to the NCAA All-Northeast Region Team by virtue of her 15th-place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regional meet last season. Fitzpatrick also earned all-conference honors after a sixth-place finish at the America East Championships. The Massachusetts native went on to have an impressive spring season on the track as she captured the 10,000m at the conference championships and qualified for the NCAA East Regional in the 3,000m steeplechase.     

Senior Jennifer Racine (Haverhill, Mass.), junior Keely Maguire (Georgetown, Mass.) and sophomore Elise Beattie (Woodstock, Ill.) will compliment Fitzpatrick as returning leaders. Racine, who will serve as the team's other co-captain, submitted her best regional performance in 2009 with a 98th-place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regional. Maguire returns to the team this fall after a strong outdoor track campaign when she qualified for the NCAA East Regional and captured the event at New Englands. Beattie posted an impressive rookie season in 2010, finishing 19th in the conference and 96th in the region. 

The 'Cats will have plenty of depth on the squad this season with the help of several experienced runners, including juniors Darcy James (Exeter, N.H.) and Erin Phillips (Belmont, N.H.), and sophomore Anne Twombly (Exeter, N.H.). James, a middle distance specialist moving up to cross country, scored at the conference championships in both the 1,000m and 1,500m events. Twombly was a scorer in the 3,000m at New Englands last winter while Phillips scored in the 10,000m at both the conference and New England Championships.

The Wildcats also boast a promising and talented group of newcomers, headlined by freshmen Gabby Mancuso (New Paltz, N.Y.), Megan Ross (Franklin, Mass.) and Marina Slavin (Durham, N.H.).

The Wildcats open the 2011 season on Saturday, Sept. 3 when they host Providence and Maine at 11:00 a.m.

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