DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire cross country teams open the 2012 season on Friday, Aug. 31 when they play host to Providence and Maine at College Woods. The women's 5K kicks off at 1 p.m., while the men's 6K race starts at 2 p.m.
The season outlook looks bright for the women's squad as the Wildcats were recently picked 12th in the preseason Northeast Region Poll that was released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). New Hampshire tied for second at the America East Championships last season followed by a 12th-place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regional meet.
The Wildcats are poised for a strong season with veteran leadership from seniors Keely Maguire (Georgetown, Mass.) and Darcy James (Exeter, N.H.), and junior Elise Beattie (Woodstock, Ill.). All three captains placed in the top-15 in last year's America East Championships, led by Maguire who finished fourth overall and earned all-conference honors. She was also named to the NCAA All-Northeast Region team after finishing 24th at the regional meet. Beattie also earned all-conference honors after a 10th-place finish at the league championships, while James took 11th overall.
The women's side will have plenty of depth with the help of several experienced returnees, including sophomore Chelsey Serrano (Manchester, N.H.), who turned-in a top-30 finish at last year's league championships. UNH can also expect good results from senior Erin Philips (Belmont, N.H.) and junior Anne Twombly (Exeter, N.H.) as well as some promising young talent in freshmen McKenzie Haney (Penacook, N.H.), Cassandra Kruse (Hampshire, Ill.) and Laura Rose Donegan (Melbourne, Australia).
On the men's side, the Wildcats placed seventh at the 2011 America East Championships and went on to finish 21st at the NCAA Northeast Regional meet.
The men's squad will benefit from a solid combination of talented returning veterans and promising underclassmen. Leading the way will be senior Daniel DeCrescenzo (New Milford, Conn.), who placed 12th overall at last year's league championships, completing the 8-kilometer course in a time of 25:07.
In addition to DeCrescenzo, the Wildcats return five of their top seven finishers from last year's conference championship meet. Seniors Kent Harlow (Burnt Hills, N.Y.) and Cory Sinotte (Hooksett, N.H.) placed 25th and 33rd, respectively, and should add some veteran leadership to this year's team. Sinotte also placed 88th overall at the Northeast Regional and was the top finisher for UNH, while sophomores Jeff Moretti (Guilford, Conn.) and John Prizzi (Wyckoff, N.J.) both picked up valuable experience after facing top competition at the regional meet.