Bridgewater Heads ODAC Women's Cross Country Poll
Eagles Earn Nine First Place Votes, Leads W&L and VWC in Top Three
FOREST, Va. --- Bridgewater College collected nine first place votes and 81 total points to stand atop the 2012 ODAC Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll. Washington and Lee University secured the remaining top nod on the way to 72 tallies, and Virginia Wesleyan College rounds out the top three with 55 points in the annual coaches' survey (full poll results below).
The 2012 season saw BC win its first ODAC women's cross country team title as four Eagles placed inside the top-10. Individual champion Olivia Mills spearheaded Bridgewater's effort by running away from the field to claim her title by more than a minute over runner-up Lauren Schultz from W&L.
Success for ODAC runners continued at the South/Southeast Regional in San Antonio, Texas. Mills finished third overall to punch her ticket to the NCAA Division III National Championships in Winneconne, Wisc. Schultz and Roanoke College's Grace England also qualified for nationals by finishing 12th and 16th, respectively. Mills was the top ODAC finisher in Wisconsin as she placed 42nd amongst the 277 competitors.
The talent returning to the ODAC's cross country rosters is deep as all but four of the top-20 runners from the 2011 championships are back for another go. It all starts with Bridgewater's Olivia Mills as the Eagles' junior looks to capture her second straight ODAC individual crown after finishing with a time of 22:00.60 at Claytor Nature Center (Beford, Va.) last October. She's joined by a pair of second team returners in junior Stephanie Breen (24:00.90 - 8th) and senior Whitney Fitzgerald (24:02.60 - 9th). BC will also look to senior Samantha Hancock to improve upon her 24th place showing (25:21.40) in 2011.
Washington and Lee also features a stable of strong returning runners, led by senior Schultz (23:06.50 - 2nd). She's joined by a pair of all-conference juniors in first teamer Annelise Madison (23:40.00 - 5th) and second teamer Brandie Huffman (24:10.70 - 11th). Senior Molly Ortiz (24:40.20 - 15th) bolsters the Generals' contingent.
Virginia Wesleyan will be without two 2011 first team runners, but second teamer, junior Shelby Bryceland (24:06.20 - 10th), and senior Katie Bennett (25:12.00 - 20th) anchor the Marlins squad. Lynchburg College is deep in returning talent, led by sophomore Jacqueline Graham (25:16.90 - 22nd) and juniors Carly Pleines (25:33.30 - 25th) and Naomi Tice (25:34.50 - 26th).
Shenandoah University joins the ODAC for its first season as a full-time conference member. The Hornets will be without a pair of USA South first team athletes, but 2011 USA-S Rookie of the Year, Dorothy Earner (25:10.19 - 9th), and senior Emily Hesse (26:20.30 - 12th) were second team qualifiers.
Roanoke is paced by 2011 ODAC Rookie of the Year and first team runner England (23:31.80 - 4th). She'll be supported by sophomore Leigha Schimoller (24:54.50 - 18th). Eastern Mennonite University is paced by sophomore second teamer Katie Eckman (24:32.70 - 14th). The Royals will also benefit from the return of junior Alli Eanes (24:52.70 - 17th).
Randolph College is led by a pair of sophomores in Monica Ashby (26:55.70 - 47th) and Sarah Reed (27:31.70 - 51st). Guilford College returns the sophomore duo of Jasmine O'Neill (25:46.50 - 31st) and Emily Cash (27:54.70 - 56th). Emory & Henry College will look to senior Kaitlyn Phibbs (28:37.10 - 64th).
Listed below is the 2012 ODAC Women's Cross Country Preseason Poll. For more information, visit any of the participating schools' websites, or go to the ODAC's home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don't forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook and follow @odacathletics on Twitter.
2012 ODAC WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes First Place Votes
|1. Bridgewater (9)||81 pts.|
|2. Washington and Lee (1)||72 pts.|
|3. Virginia Wesleyan||55 pts.|
|4. Lynchburg||53 pts.|
|5. Shenandoah||50 pts.|
|6. Roanoke||45 pts.|
|7. Eastern Mennonite||41 pts.|
|8. Randolph||23 pts.|
|9. Guilford||17 pts.|
|10. Emory & Henry||13 pts.|