With all seven finishers from last year's NCAA Great Lakes Regional slated to return, a veteran squad will lead the Case Western Reserve University women's cross country team into the 2017 campaign, beginning with the Sudeck Sunset Classic Stampede on Friday, September 1st at the Squire Valleevue Farm in Hunting Valley, Ohio.
The Spartans are ranked 10th in the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Great Lakes Region Preseason Poll, after finishing 11th at the 2016 NCAA Regional Championships. Case Western Reserve will be bringing back senior Danielle Kulpins, who led the team with a 20th-place finish at the regional meet last year to claim an all-region award, and was the squad's top finisher in all six races she competed in. She also placed 10th at the UAA Championships, leading the squad to a sixth-place finish at the meet and earning All-UAA Second Team honors.
"Danielle is going to have to be a top-10 performer at every race this season," said 17th-year Head Coach Kathy Lanese. "This is her second year as captain. She has been a leader both during competitions and in practice for us over the last two years, and I am excited to see her perform during her final cross country season as a Spartan."
Case Western Reserve junior Jennifer Hoffmann will be back after her breakout sophomore season, during which she was the team's second finisher at all six meets. Sophomore Vanessa Pasadyn, junior Isa Torres-Padin, senior Rachel Laveson, sophomore Madeline Lindemann and junior Sophie Trikeriotis are all slated to be back for the Spartans in 2017 as well, after each competed for the team at last year's NCAA Regional Championship.
Kulpins will serve as a team captain for the upcoming season, along with fellow senior Claire Plunkett. Additional returners include seniors Kate Erickson, Karyn Rapundalo, and Hayley Yocum, juniors Maria DeRenzo, Amy Lin, Marissa Miyagi and Ellen Sears, and sophomores Mallorie Mitchem and Gillian Prater-Lee.
"We saw a lot of growth with the top runners on the distance team during the track and field season last year, and I am excited to see that translate into this cross country season," said Lanese. "With our returning core, along with the addition of Claire Plunkett (who studied abroad last year), I think we can make a big jump in performance from last season."
Newcomers to the team in 2017 include sophomore Catherine Lawton and freshmen Olivia Battistoni, Abby Cowher, Elise Epstein, Cara Giannuzzi, Grace Kemerer, Kiera Olson, and Madison Vargo.
"We have a strong group of freshmen this year that could have some scoring potential and immediate impact on the team alongside the veterans," said Lanese.
The Spartans will open their 2017 season on Friday, hosting the annual Sudeck Sunset Classic Stampede. The meet, which honors the Spartans' late, legendary Head Coach Bill Sudeck, will get started with the men's 6,000-meter run at 5:30 p.m., to be followed by the women's 4,000-meter run at 6:15 p.m. Also competing at the meet will be John Carroll University, Albion College, and the Ursuline College women.
Other key meets during the year include the All-Ohio Championships on Friday, September 29th in Cedarville, Ohio and the 2017 UAA Championships, hosted by New York University in Woodland Park, New Jersey on Saturday, October 28th. The Spartans will then turn their attention towards the NCAA Great Lakes Region Championship in Powell, Ohio on Saturday, November 11th, as the team will try to qualify for the NCAA Division III Championships, hosted by Principia College in Elsa, Ill., the following Saturday, November 18th.
Full results of the Sudeck Sunset Classic Stampede and a recap of the Spartan's performances at the meet will be posted to athletics.case.edu following the completion of competition on Friday.