No. 6 Saints Make Final Preparations for 2009 NCAA Championships
Nov. 19: The St. Lawrence University women's cross country team, the champions of the Atlantic Region, hit the road Thursday morning bound for Highland Park Golf Course in Cleveland, OH, the site of the 2009 NCAA Championship race. Saturday's race, which begins at 11:00am, will be the fourth appearance by the women's team in the program's history.
St. Lawrence earned an at-large bid into last year's championship race, finishing in 21st position out of 32 teams. Junior Wendy Pavlus was 20th overall, earning her first career All-America status.
"Our mentality from last season has changed dramatically regarding NCAA's," said St. Lawrence University head coach Mike Howard. "Last fall, we were excited to be there and had a great overall experience. This year, the mood is a bit different. We feel like we can compete with many of the top programs in the country and have something to prove."
The Saints have had the best season in University history to date, winning the Liberty League, NYSCTC and Atlantic Regional titles. Last weekend's victory in the NCAA Regional race was a first for the program, while Pavlus successfully defended her individual title as well.
A native of Tupper Lake, NY, Pavlus will once again look to lead the Scarlet and Brown at the 2009 national title race on Saturday. Joined by senior co-captain Johannah Ludington and sophomore stand-out Jenna Hulton, the Saints' trio has established itself as one of the best front-runner combinations in the country.
"Wendy (Pavlus) has had another tremendous year for us, and both Johannah (Ludington) and Jenna (Hulton) each won their first collegiate races this fall as well," said Coach Howard, who was named the Atlantic Regional Coach of the Year earlier this week. "We'll need them to run well and set a solid pace for our pack on Saturday."
Meanwhile, junior Megan Derby, who is competing in her first collegiate season of cross country this year, delivered a key finish in St. Lawrence's victory last weekend. The Grafton, NY native finished in 9th place to earn All-Region honors to help her team seal an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
"Megan (Derby) has come on so strong over the last few weeks," remarked Coach Howard. "Her finish last weekend really energized our team and has given us even more confidence that we're ready to compete come Saturday morning."
Senior Hillary St. John, sophomore McKayla Nuffer and first-year student Jackie Lemme will round out St. Lawrence's probable roster at the NCAA Championships.
"Our depth has really been one of our strongest assets this season, and I think our roster reflects that," said Coach Howard. "Hillary (St. John) gives us another veteran presence in the line-up, while McKayla (Nuffer) and Jackie (Lemme) have both had break-out seasons."
The Saints stopped in Rochester, NY on Thursday to run at Genesee Valley Park before finishing the trip to Cleveland. St. Lawrence will see the NCAA Championship course for the first time at practice on Friday before competing in Saturday's title chase.Senior co-captain Chelsea Nuffer will be providing updates throughout the team's trip to the 2009 NCAA Championship. To read "Nuffer's Notes," please click here.