W&M Women Prepare For CAA Title Defense

WILLIAMSBURG, VA - Reigning CAA Champion William and Mary women's cross country will defend its crown this Saturday as it contests the CAA Cross Country Championship, hosted by James Madison in New Market, VA. The 6,000m women's race is slated to begin at 10:00 a.m.

Last season, the Tribe won its 11th CAA Cross Country Championship, and first since 1998, in a record-setting performance. The Green and Gold dominated the race, with six runners in the top 10 and seven All-CAA performers (top 12), and witnessed all of its 12 harriers earn top-20 finishes. The performances netted W&M a record 18 points, four fewer than the previous best. 2003 graduate Ali Henderson won the individual conference crown to provide the sweep of both titles for the Tribe.

Only three of those all-conference honorees, however, return in 2004 as the rest were lost to graduation. Sophomore Julia Cathcart (Starkville, MS) is the team's top returning finisher after she captured fourth in the first conference meet of her career last season. Cathcart has had a brilliant campaign this fall, earning CAA Runner of the Week honors twice and leading the Tribe at every meet she has contested. The 2003 CAA Co-Rookie of the Year dazzled by racing to fifth at the Paul Short Invitational, placing her among the top runners in the nation, and also won the squad's own Colonial Invitational to kick off the season. Senior Jackie Kosakowski (Sauquoit, NY) finished in fifth at last year's Championship (just two seconds behind Cathcart) and is another threat for the individual title. Kosakowski, who has earned All-CAA honors all three years of her career, has had a solid fall, finishing 22nd at the Paul Short Invitational and 32nd at Penn State's National Invitational. Sophomore Meghan Bishop (Blue Bell, PA) is another challenger for the individual crown, as she finished seventh at 2003's Championship to share Rookie of the Year honors with Cathcart. Bishop has been tabbed as the CAA Runner of the Week once this fall, for her 30th-place finish at the Notre Dame Invitational.

Junior Kristyn Shiring (Stafford, VA) will be another key harrier for the Green and Gold. Shiring, who missed last year's CAA meet, finished 11th in 2002 (her rookie season) for all-conference honors. Fellow junior Lauren Heron (Manlius, NY) is another former All-CAA performer on the squad (12th as a rookie in 2002) whom the team will lean on to score well.

A CAA title would help W&M in its quest to return to the NCAA Championship, which it last contested in 2002. W&M, ranked as high as No. 22 in the Finish Lynx National poll this season, has impressed the voters by outracing higher-ranked opponents consistently this fall. At the Paul Short Invitational, the College parlayed three runners in the top-25 of the national-caliber field into a strong fourth place, outpacing then- No. 15 Georgetown and No. 27 Yale. The Tribe continued to impress at the Notre Dame Invitational, beating out then- No. 12 UCLA and No. 20 Butler to take sixth in the 5,000m Blue Race. Most recently the team finished seventh at the competitive Penn State National Invitational.