Women's Cross Country

Rothenberg Race On Deck For Women's XC

Rachel Hilliard has placed in the team's top five in two-of-three meets this season.

Rachel Hilliard has placed in the team's top five in two-of-three meets this season.

Oct. 12, 2011

WARWICK, R.I. - Continuing to push forward into race number five will be the UMass women's cross country team this Friday for the Rothenberg Race. The 5K race is set to take place in Warwick, R.I. at 3:40 p.m. Coach LaFreniere's harriers traveled to the Ocean State earlier this season for the Bryant University Invitational back on September 10. This Saturday marks the final meet prior to the heavily anticipated A-10 Championships set for October 29.

Last Time Out
In the best performance as a team thus far in 2011, the Minutewomen placed 13th in a field of 39 teams at last Saturday's New England Championships. The race featured a myriad of the Northeast's top team, as UMass was able to tallied 367 points.

To no surprise, Karen Roa was at the head of the race once again for UMass, as she has now successfully led the Minutewomen in all four competitions. The senior from Jamaica, N.Y. placed tenth overall in a field full of 269 competitors.

Hearty Harriers
Karen Roa, Sarah Barrett, Courtney Baldwin, and Colleen Wetherbee all finished in the team's top five at the New England Championships (10/8). Roa led UMass for a fourth straight meet, while taking 10th place in 18:08. Sophomore Barrett and junior Baldwin were on their game as well, following Roa in 76th and 80th respectively with marks of 19:15 and 19:18. The senior from West Yarmouth, Mass., Wetherbee, rounded out the Amherst top five, placing 102nd in 19:34.

Following the meet at Franklin Park on October 8, Barrett has yet to place below sixth on the team in any of the four meets she has competed in in 2011. Also, through two competitions for each, Baldwin has yet to place below third on the team, while Wetherbee has yet to place below fifth.



At the Paul Short Invitational (9/30), Karen Roa led the Minutewomen for a third consecutive meet, while veteran Courtney Baldwin also returned to competition. Roa placed 42nd overall while running a 6K personal record time of 21:20. Baldwin was not far behind Roa in 215th while crossing the line at 23:22 and placing third on the team. Also in the mix for UMass was sophomore Sarah Barrett in 264th and fifth on the team with a mark of 23:58.

Despite many young faces Minutewomen are returning several of last season's strongest harriers to this year's squads.

Courtney Baldwin, Karen Roa, and Mary Cole are three of the Minutewomen's top returnees. Baldwin leads the way coming into 2011 having led UMass in four meets last year, while placing in the team's top five in all seven that she competed in. Behind her are Roa and Cole, who tallied five and two, top five team finishes respectively in 2010.

Also returning are strong upperclassmen, Danielle McNiff and Colleen Wetherbee along with graduate student Lauren Stocker, and sophomores Sarah Barrett, Alexandra Purdue-Smithe, and Katrina Martyn.

Fresh Outlook
In the season's fourth competition, Rachel Hilliard again finished among UMass' top five harriers. The Hookstown, Pa. native crossed the line at 19:33, while placing 99th overall. The UMass freshman has placed in the team's top three finishers in three-of-four races that she has competed in through 2011.

First years Rachel Hilliard and Katie Powers ranked in the team's top five at the Paul Short Invitational (9/30). Hilliard placed second on the team and 208th overall in 23:19, while the latter of the duo crossed the line at 23:25 and took home 223rd overall and fourth on the squad. Through three meets as a freshman, Hilliard has still yet to place below third on the team in any competition.

A trio of coach LaFreniere's first years were right at the top of the UMass pack in week one competition at Bryant University (9/10). The freshman trifecta comprised of Rachel Hilliard, Megan Cummings, and Hannah White placed third, fourth, and fifth respectively for the Minutewomen and 29th, 36th, and 39th overall.

The Minutewomen offer twelve newcomers to the current XC squad, with nine being freshman. Lindsey Russo, Alexandra Purdue-Smithe, and Emily Travers are the non-first years that are new additions to the Minutewomen's squad.

The class of 2015 includes Jessica Andre, Catherine Ayers, Sarah Burke, Alexandra Burtnick, Megan Cummings, Rachel Hilliard, Laura Kochenash, Katie Powers, and Hannah White.

Schedules Set
UMass opened 2011 campaign at the Bryant University Invitational (9/10), where no team scores were kept. Karen Roa led her tea, finishing sixth in a field of 96 harriers while posting a time of 18:17.99.

Following a trip southeast, UMass returned to Amherst for the Minuteman Invite where the team scored 99 points and placed fourth in a field of five teams. The Minutewomen were once again paced by Roa, who finished with a season best time of 17:36.01.

After the meet at home, the Minutewomen traveled to the Paul Short Invitational (9/30) in Bethlehem, Pa. With 952 points, Julie LaFreniere's squad placed 38th in a field that contained the likes of #1 Georgetown University, #3 Providence College, and #5 Villanova.

Championship season commenced with the New England Meet on October 8 with the sole trip of the season to Franklin Park for Julie LaFreniere's squad. The Minutewomen offered perhaps the best team showing of the 2011 campaign thus far, placing 13th in a field of 39 teams. UMass tallied a total of 367 points, as in-state rival Boston College took home gold.

The Atlantic 10 Championship Meet is set October 29 in Charlotte, N.C., the same site of the 2011 A-10 Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The women have a competition between the New England and A-10 Championships, set for this Friday, when the team travels to Warwick, R.I. for the Rothenberg Race.

The final meet of the season comes at the NCAA Regionals in the Amherst of a different state, Amherst, N.Y. on November 12.

Around The Atlantic 10
UMass' own Karen Roa brought home the first weekly A-10 award for a UMass woman in 2011, on October 10. The standout senior was named the Female A-10 Cross Country Performer of the Week for her tenth place finish at last weekend's New England Championships in Boston, Mass.

Freshman Sarah Glockenmier of Fordham was tabbed the Female A-10 Rookie Cross Country Performer of the Week.

Through the weekend of October 1 and 2, the most races that any A-10 team has competed is five (Charlotte, Duquesne, Fordham). The lady Hawks from Saint Joseph's are undefeated through 2011 thus far with two top first place finishes coming at the Blue Gold Classic in the Garden State and at the Charlotte Invitational in North Carolina.

The Richmond Spiders enter the fall campaign as the reigning A-10 Champions on both the men's and women's sides. The women have raced three times thus far in 2011, posting two first place team finishes.

Sitting alone, Temple and George Washington are the only two conference squads yet to record a top five finish as a team.

National Outlook
In the week four United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Northeast Regional Poll, Providence College ranks as the top team. In-state rival Boston College sits as #7, while Boston University ranks #14.

In terms of conference opponents ranking regionally, in the Mid-East Region, the La Salle Explorers rank #7, the Saint Joseph's Hawks sit at #11, and the Duquesne Dukes rank #15.Dayton is posted as #11 in the Great Lakes Region.

The Saint Louis Bilikens come in at #15 in the Midwest Region, while 2010 A-10 Champion, Richmond ranks #12 in Southeast Region.

Experience At The Helm
There is no lack of leadership for UMass this fall for UMass as Julie LaFreniere returns for her 25th season at the center of the women's cross country program.

LaFreniere has accumulated multiple 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. 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.

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