Seahawks Eye CAA Cross Country Meet
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia - Forty-two days after competing in the William & Mary Invitational, the UNCW men's and women's cross country teams return to Virginia this weekend to go after a bigger prize when the CAA Cross Country Championships take off on the rolling grounds of Eastern State Hospital.
The Seahawks tackled a hilly course for the first time this fall during their earlier trip to Williamsburg and got a taste of the course they'll be running Saturday (Oct. 27). The 6K women's race begins at 10 a.m. and the 8K men's competition starts at 11 a.m.
"The goal for both teams all season has been to finish in the top four at the CAA's and I think we have a shot at the top three," said Layne Schwier, assistant cross country/track and field coach. "We're excited that it's championship season. We've put in a lot of hard work and it's time to see the results. That's what all of the miles have been for."
Three different runners have paced the Seahawk women during the course of the season. Sophomore Rachel Quinn was the top runner in the first two races, freshman Alyssa Torres was the lead runner at W&M, and junior Ashley Wybersky has paced the pack the last two appearances.
James Madison is the two-time defending women's champion and the Seahawks finished sixth last year at the Nash Farm Battlefield in Hampton, Ga. Erin Brennan was UNCW's top runner, placing 13th in the field.
According to Schwier, "Outside of James Madison and William & Mary, the women's field is fairly balanced. Our entire season comes down to this meet. We have to bring our 'A" game on Saturday."
Former x-c standout Lindsay Ester earned All-CAA honors with a sixth place finish in 2010 and Schwier believes Wybersky, who finished eight out of 121 runners at the Blue Ridge Open two weeks ago, has a shot at giving the Seahawks another All-Conference runner.
"We hope Ashley can challenge for an All-CAA spot, but we need four girls not too far behind her. We're going to rely on a strong, closely grouped pack."
The Tribe, meanwhile, has dominated men's cross country in the league, reeling off 12 consecutive titles and 17 of the last 19 championships. W&M won last year's meet with 27 points in Georgia.
"William & Mary will be the favorite on both sides. We have been solid lately with our top three runners, but it takes five. We're looking for a couple guys to really step it up. We need a pack that can work well together."
Junior John Riemer was UNCW's top finisher in the first three races of the fall and sophomore Ryan O'Connor has been the first runner to cross the tape in the last two races in Charlotte and Boone.
"The course is challenging," Schwier said. "It has a lot of rolling hills on a multi-loop course. We have trained well and workouts have gone great. We're fairly healthy and should be fine when we line up to race."
Following the CAA Championships, the Seahawk harriers compete in the 51-team NCAA Southeast Regionals Nov. 9 in Charlotte.