Oct. 25, 2006
by David Vitto
The Atlantic Coast Conference Championships for Cross Country will be held at Panorama Farms in Charlottesville, Virginia this upcoming Saturday, October 28. The University of Virginia men look to defend their 2005 ACC title, while the Cavalier women look to improve upon a sixth place finish in 2005. The men will be racing the 8,000 meters on their home grass, while the women will race 6,000 meters. The women's race will begin at 10 a.m. and the men's race, the 52nd such ACC championship, will go off at 11 a.m.
The women's race features a number of the top squads in the nation. At some point this year, eight of the 12 women's teams in the conference have been ranked within the top 30 teams nationally. Coming into championship weekend, six teams are still ranked: No. 2 NC State, No. 14 Florida State, No. 16 Duke, the defending champion, No. 25 Virginia, No. 28 Boston College, and No. 29 Virginia Tech.
2005 ACC Champion Duke lost individual champion Shannon Rowbury to graduation as well as '05 runner-up Clara Horowitz, but still return All-ACC runners Laura Stanley, Natasha Roetter, and ACC Freshmen of the Year Whitney Anderson. National No. 2 NC State returns All-ACC harriers Jemissa Hess and Magin Kebert, but also returns track All-American Julia Lucas, who missed the 2005 campaign while recovering from injury and just recently won the White Race at NCAA Pre-Nationals. The No. 14 Seminoles are led by 2005 NCAA qualifier Laura Bowerman and a tight pack from 2-5. Wake Forest has a contender for the individual title in senior Michelle Sikes and Boston College returns four of their top five from a squad that finished 18th at the NCAA Championships last fall. North Carolina also returns two All-ACC honorees in Megan Kaltenbach and Brianna Felnagle.
The Virginia women's team returns two-time All-ACC honoree Emily Harrison and 2002 All-ACC harrier Kara Scanlin, who barely missed receiving conference honors last year as she finished 16th. The Cavaliers return almost every member of the team that finished third last year at NCAA Southeast Regionals and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships, where they finished 26th. Returning along with Harrison and Scanlin are Laura Hodges, Katie Read, Lauretta Dezubay, Kristin Milot, and Janine Ricci.
At least since 1998, the only teams to win an ACC title in women's cross country have been located in the state of North Carolina. Since 1998, NC State has won 4 ACC titles, North Carolina has won two, and Duke has won the last two years.
From 1995-2004, NC State won nine out of the 10 ACC titles in Men's Cross Country. The only year they didn't win was in 2000 when Duke captured the ACC title. Then last year, UVa stopped NC State's streak at four years in a row and the Cavaliers captured their first ACC title in 21 years. UVa's squad won their first ACC title since 1984 by placing all 5 scorers within the top 8 finishers. Jan Foerster, Andrew Dumm, Soeren Lindner, Ryan Foster, and ACC Freshman of the Year Andy Biladeau all finished within 10 seconds of each other to give Virginia a 4-5-6-7-8 finish and 30 total team points. Florida State finished directly behind the Cavaliers with a similarly low total of 38 points.
The men's race features three teams that are currently ranked within the top 30 nationally. No. 8 Florida State, No. 9 NC State, and No. 29 Virginia will contend for the team title, while the rest of the conference looks to make a big splash at the championship meet and gain some valuable at-large points.
2005 ACC individual champion Andrew Lemoncello returns for his senior season looking for a third straight ACC individual title. Joining him are two-time All-ACC selection Tom Lancashire and newcomers Mark Buckingham and Luke Gunn. NC State returns 2005 All-ACC selection John Crews but also brings back 2004 All-ACC runners Bobby Mack, Wesley Smith, and Gavin Coombs, who all missed the 2005 campaign, as well as All-ACC track performers Tibor Vegh and Chris Kollar. Clemson returns 2004 All-ACC harrier Itay Magidi and newcomer Bryce Iverson, who recently finished 21st in the highly competitive Pre-Nationals Blue Race. Duke has an All-ACC returnee in Chris Spooner, who finished 12th in 2005. Boston College has a strong front runner in junior Patrick Mellea, who finished 18th at last year's ACC meet, just missing All-conference honors.
Virginia brings back four All-ACC selections from last year's championship team. Foerster, Dumm, and Biladeau all return along with 13th place finisher Alex Tatu. The Cavaliers also return Taylor Smith from last year's team and bring back All-conference track performer Kevin McHale, who missed the 2005 campaign due to injury. UVa will also look to talented sophomore Andrew Jesien and veteran Alec Lorenzoni to provide some depth to a team that looks to defend their title on their home course.
For directions to Panorama Farms, go to http://www.theacc.com/sports/c-xc/06-xc-championship.html.
Notes: The 8K Panorama course record was set this year at the Lou Onesty Invitational by Liberty All-American Josh McDougal, who covered the course in 24:14.50 ... UVa's Jennifer Owens was the last UVa female to finish in the top 3 individually at ACC's, she did so in 2001 ... NC State has the meet record for lowest team score, as the Wolfpack men scored 16 points to win the ACC title in 1999 ... 2005 was the most Cavalier All-ACC honorees on the men's side (six) since 2000, when UVa had three and finished 2-7-8 ... Since 1998, NC State has won the men's and women's ACC title the same year on three occasions, in 1998, 2001 and 2002.