From seniors to freshman and their strong nucleus of sophomores the UMass women's cross country team will need a complete team effort this week at the A-10 Championships.
The young UMass women's cross country team gains the experience of running in the spotlight of the Paul Short Invitational as well as improving in their pack running heading into the New England Championships.
Head Coach Julie LaFreniere and her Assistant Coaches David Jackson and Darcy Wilson hope to continue to bring in young talent for the 2012-13 season.
Both the men and women will compete the first two weeks of their season on their home turf.
Karen Roa led the Minutewomen for the sixth meet this season on Saturday.
WXC - UMASS INVITE Photos by Thom Kendall '93
Julie LaFreniere has been a part of the foundation of the UMass women's cross country and track and field teams, playing an instrumental role in both programs' rise to prominence since the beginning of their existence at Massachusetts. She enters her 27th year at the helm of the cross country and track and field programs at UMass.
While at the helm of the UMass teams, LaFreniere has accumulated several coaching and team accolades. She was named the Atlantic 10 women's cross country Coach of the Year six times (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999) and led the Minutewomen to seven A-10 cross country championships.
In 1995, she added her first NCAA qualifier to her list of accomplishments when Rebecca Donaghue qualified for the NCAA Championship, finishing 50th in the national competition. Donaghue qualified again in 1996 under LaFreniere's tutelage. Recently, LaFreniere added another runner to her list of NCAA qualifiers, when Kristin Cisowski competed in the 2000 and 2001 NCAA Cross Country Championship.
In addition to her cross country accomplishments, LaFreniere has also accumulated success in track and field. She led the Minutewomen to their first-ever A-10 outdoor track and field championship in 1999, and was named Atlantic 10 outdoor track and field Coach of the Year in the same season. LaFreniere led the Minutewomen back to another title in 2001, and once again received Coach of the Year honors from the A-10.
In 2008, LaFreniere sent Christina DeRosa to the NCAA Track & Field National Championships, where she placed 18th overall in the 10,000 meters. DeRosa became LaFreniere's fourth track and field performer to compete in the NCAA Championships.
LaFreniere has also found success while coaching the UMass indoor track and field team. She was named the 1996 Atlantic 10 Indoor track and field Coach of the Year, and led the Minutewomen to A-10 indoor titles in 1996 and 1998.
In addition to competing in the A-10, LaFreniere's squads have also participated in the New England and ECAC championships. In 1995, she coached the first UMass track and field All-American when Kelly Liljeblad placed fifth in the 10,000M at the NCAA Championship.
After graduating from UMass in 1977, LaFreniere held head coaching positions at the high school level for four years. She later returned to UMass to pursue a master's degree in Sport Management. Upon receiving her graduate degree in 1986, LaFreniere was named the Minutewomen's head cross country and track and field coach in 1987.
As a student-athlete, LaFreniere helped lead the UMass women's cross country team to the New England championship and a ninth-place finish at the first AIAW women's national championship. She left her mark on the Minutewoman squad when she set school records in the half-mile and mile, and received MVP awards for both cross country and track and field in 1976 and 1977.
LaFreniere was recently inducted into the Gardner (Mass.) High School Athletic Hall of Fame, and currently resides in Petersham, Mass.
Last updated October 23, 2013
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