Providence, RI- The Women's Cross Country team kicks off their season this weekend at the Bryant Invitational in Smithfield, R.I. The Bears are led by Head Coach Mitchell Baker and senior captains Olivia Mickle (Sacramento, CA) and Bree Shugarts (Lewistown, PA). Mickle is coming into the season strong after competing in the 2012 NCAA Track and Field Championships in the 10k this spring and breaking a 33-year-old school record with a time of 33:59.26.
Brown returns senior Elaine Kuckertz (Clarendon Hills, IL), and junior standouts Margaret Connelly (Chicago, IL) and Heidi Caldwell (Hanover, NH) who finished in 15th and 16th places, respectively, at the 2011 NCAA Northeast Cross Country Regionals meet last year. Both maintained positive momentum throughout the spring track season, and Caldwell even continued on to set the school record in the 5000m run outdoors with a time of 16:06.00.
With a solid year of collegiate competition experience under their belts, sophomores Abigail Jones (Barrington, RI), Alexandra Conway (Manchester, NH), and Leah Eickhoff (Hanover, NH) all have the opportunity to fill key scoring roles for the team. The incoming freshman class of nine runners looks to add depth to the team that graduated scorer Ari Garber (North Falmouth, MA), 2011 team captains Rosie Fleming (Westlake Village, CA) and Rachel Baker (Redondo Beach, CA), and competitor Brianna Rogers (Moorestown, NJ).
In this second year under Coach Baker's leadership and direction, the squad is primed to compete well and improve upon last year's finish in the Ivy League Championships.
"The progress between last fall and this spring was really solid, especially for the athletes that challenged for Heptagonal Championships and competed at the NCAA level, something they weren't ready to do when we started last September," said Baker. "To see more growth not just out of the top athletes but also the younger ones training together in packs everyday and finding ways to take care of themselves individually shows great improvement. We have good health right now and if we can continue that and make small gains everyday I think we'll be significantly improved from a year ago."
In addition to regional competition throughout the season, the Bears will face the country's top teams this October at the Adidas Invitational at the University of Wisconsin. Brown will host one home meet this season, the Rothenberg Run, on October 19th in further preparation for the championship meets in mid-November.