September 4, 2009

2009 Women's Cross Country Preview

Having won the last five women’s cross country ODAC titles, it comes as no surprise that Washington and Lee would once again be picked to run away with the league title. It would almost seem a forgone conclusion for the Generals to grab a sixth-straight crown and 13th league title overall. However, seventh-year head coach Kris Hoey is quick to dispel the notion that her team is a lock to win it all.

“People have to realize that we lost quite a bit to graduation,” she points out. Those losses, NCAA qualifiers Jess Shaw and Elizabeth Webb and fellow all-region runner Becca Taylor, have the potential to loom large on a team that will welcome seven newcomers this year.

“Winning number six can’t be the focus this year,” Hoey said. “We have to focus on what we do well and the rest will fall into place.”

Despite graduating “the big three”, the Generals are not devoid of talent by any means. They return three all-conference runners from a season ago, as well as five other runners who gained valuable experience competing in last year’s conference meet.

Perhaps the most notable returnee is senior captain Kat Telfeyan (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge). Telfeyan, who earned Second Team All-ODAC laurels a year ago after a ninth-place finish in the Championship meet, was the ODAC Runner of the Year and NCAA qualifier as a sophomore and also took home Rookie of the Year honors in 2006.

“Kat is one of our grittiest runners,” said Hoey. “She had a good season last year, but she had to deal with a few injuries which kept her from achieving some of her individual goals. She is a tremendous team player and was able to help the team achieve all the success we had last year.  She is healthy again and has had a great summer and I think that she can have a great season.”

Fellow senior and team captain Dorothy Todd (Watkinsville, Ga./Athens Academy) also returns for her final season. Todd was a First Team All-ODAC selection following a seventh-place finish last season and has earned All-ODAC recognition after each of her first three seasons.

“Dorothy provides us with a lot of leadership and she has been a good competitor for us the last three years,” noted Hoey. “We look for her to just have a solid year and continue to help the team in any way that she can.”

The final returning all-conference honoree from 2008 is also Hoey’s final team captain. Junior Katherine Fenwick (Berwyn, Pa./Conestoga) finished 11th in last season’s conference meet and was named Second Team All-ODAC.
   
“Katherine is another great leader and motivator for us,” remarked Hoey. “She is a great competitor and does her best to keep it light and help her teammates. She also  had a good summer and I look for her to step up this year.”
With three proven runners at the top of the lineup, Hoey will look for consistency and reliability out of the rest of her team. She points to several athletes who have put themselves in good positions to contribute this season.

Senior Rosemary Kelley (West Springfield, Va./West Springfield) is someone who may have a chance for increased contributions. Hoey also hopes to see sophomore Stephanie Beebe (Whitehouse Station, N.J./Hunterdon Central) and juniors Ryleigh Nucilli (Fairmont, W. Va./Fairmont) and junior Cathy Collier (Radford, Va./Radford) build on successful seasons a year ago.

“She has improved every year,” Hoey said of Kelley. “I am really excited to see what she can do as a senior.”

Of Beebe, Hoey said that “she has really rededicated herself to training and we could see some big things from her this year.”

“Cathy is someone who could really have a good year for us,” Hoey added. “She could really have a breakout year, similar to what Becca Taylor did several years ago.”

Hoey does point out that Taylor qualified for NCAA’s in her “breakout” year and that  is not the barometer that she is setting for Collier, or any of her other breakout candidates. Rather, Hoey stated that with the right attitude and some hard work it is not unreasonable for some members of her team to make some large strides in 2009.

“We had it pretty easy last year,” Hoey noted. “That is not the case any more. It is going to take some hard work for us to achieve the goals that we have set for ourselves.”

Hoey may not have it easy as W&L goes in search of its sixth-straight crown, but she welcomes the challenge.

“We will have someone step up. I just know we will,” she implores. “It is just a matter of who does it. I am not sure who exactly it is going to be, but I am not worried about it”

Washington and Lee opens its quest for a sixth-straight title on Sept. 12 as it hosts the W&L Invitational.