McNally, Women's Cross Country Team Poised For Outstanding Strides at NCAA Championships
Nov. 21, 2009
TERRE HAUTE, Ind.: November 21, 2009 - After an outstanding fall, the 11th-ranked Nittany Lion women's cross country team will take on the nation's best, competing at the NCAA Cross Country Championships at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course on Monday. The women's squad has been impressive all season, capturing the program's first Big Ten team title, led by senior standout and individual champion Bridget Franek (Hiram, Ohio). Also making the trip to Indiana State University is sophomore Vince McNally (Smoketown, Pa.), who will compete as an individual in the men's race.
About the Meet:
Men's National Rankings
Women's National Rankings
The No. 11 Nittany Lions will take on the NCAA Cross Country field for the first time since 2003 this weekend, led by seasoned veteran and 2008 Cross Country All-American Bridget Franek. Franek has been at the front of the pack all season, highlighted by an invididual victory at the Big Ten Championships, on her way to Big Ten Athlete of the Year honors. The Nittany Lions have also been on a tear, winning the program's first Big Ten cross country title, upending national powers Illinois and Minnesota.
The Lions also excelled in the Mid-Atlantic Regional, finishing fourth in the stacked field, including No. 2 Villanova, No. 3 Princeton, and No. 7 West Virginia.
The Lions have made a name for themselves on the national scene this fall, scoring victories over nearly half of Monday's 31-team NCAA field, including No. 8 Florida State, No. 13 Minnesota, No. 15 Georgetown, No. 16 Illinois, No. 17 Arizona State, No. 21 Providence, No. 22 SMU, No. 24 Notre Dame, No. 25 New Mexico, No. 27 Ohio State, No. 29 Michigan, No. 30 Indiana, and Michigan State.
Up front individually will be Colorado's Jenny Barringer - a U.S. Olympian in 2008, and a finalist in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2009 IAAF World Championships. Barringer, who was Franek's teammate on the U.S. World Championships team this past summer, is in her final appearance on the NCAA stage and the favorite for one more national title. Also looking to contend will be Washington's Kenda Schaaf, along with her number-one ranked Husky teammates, who are on pace for their second-straight NCAA team title. Villanova will try and stand in the Huskies' way, led by Big East and Mid-Atlantic Regional Champion Sheila Reid. Florida State senior Susan Kuijken will also be in the hunt, after finishing second a year ago, along with Big Ten for Angela Bizzari, who finished sixth as a junior in 2008. The fourth-ranked Oregon Ducks will be in the mix after finishing second last fall, and will likely have standout freshman Jordan Hasay and decorated senior Nicole Blood at the front of the pack.
Vince McNally will represent the Nittany Lion men after a solid sophomore season on the course. McNally, who will be making his second-career appearance at the NCAA Championships, has had quite a year in 2009, capturing All-Big Ten and All-Region honors on his way to an individual bid to NCAAs. McNally placed 11th at the conference meet, good for All-Big Ten second team honors, and followed up with an eighth-place effort at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, earning his second-career all-region certificate. McNally was a member of the Lions' 25th-place team at the 2008 NCAA Championships, running as Penn State's second man.
Individually, Stanford's Chris Derrick is one of the favorites up front, coming off Pac-10 and West Region titles, while leading the number-one ranked Cardinal. Liberty's Sam Chelanga will also be in the for the individual crown following a runner-up finish in 2008.
Stanford is the favorite for the team title, with Oklahoma State and Alabama following in number-two and number-three, respectively, in the national rankings heading into the weekend. Stanford finished third a year ago, with current No. 8 Oregon running away with the team title. Iona captured runner-up honors in the team standings in 2008.
A quartet of Big Ten teams will represent the conference at the NCAA meet, including Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Minnesota, which is led by Big Ten Champion Hassan Mead.