Women's Cross Country Season Review
Nov. 21, 2011
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The NCAA Southeast Regional marked the conclusion of the 2011 season for the Wake Forest women's cross country team. Here's a look at how the Deacs performed this season.
The women's team enjoyed a successful start to the season under second-year Director of Track & Field/Cross Country John Millar, as they placed second overall at their first meet of the season, the Covered Bridge Open in Boone, N.C. The Deacs would continue to perform strongly in the next two meets, finishing fifth among 12 teams at the Clemson Invitational and third among 36 teams at the Charlotte Invitational.
The Demon Deacons raced a young group of runners this season, as seven of the nine competitors were either freshmen or sophomores.
The women's squad turned in one of their best team performances of the season with a second-place finish in a 23-team field at the Blue Ridge Open on Oct. 14. The Deacs would go on to place 10th overall at the ACC Championships in a challenging conference field that featured multiple nationally-ranked teams.
The team concluded the season with a 13th-place finish among 35 teams at the NCAA Southeast Regional.
Sophomore Nicole Irving continued to improve upon her strong freshman campaign from a year ago, as she finished first for the team this season in each race. Irving earned All-ACC honors for the first time of her career after placing ninth at the ACC Championships, and she would follow that up with a 14th-place finish at the NCAA Regional en route to claiming All-Region honors.
Irving set the bar high from the opening race of the season by capturing the individual title at the Covered Bridge Open in a 5k time of 18:23.8. The Ballston Lake, N.Y. native would then finish second overall at both the Clemson Invitational and Charlotte Invitational before once again finishing first in Boone, N.C., at the Blue Ridge Open.
Irving's personal-best 5k time of 16:54.9 came at the Charlotte Invitational on Sept. 30, while she achieved her top 6k time a month later at the ACC Championships with a mark of 20:38.1.
"I think our team performed consistently this year, but our biggest challenge was that we didn't have many girls racing," said Irving. "I look forward to adding some talented recruits next year because we already have awesome team chemistry, but we just need the depth. Individually, I am very happy with my accomplishments and hope to improve upon them next season."
Irving was named ACC Cross Country Performer of the Week twice during the season for the weeks of Sept. 7 and Sept. 20.
Fellow sophomore Melanie Powers also enjoyed a strong season for the Deacs, as the Newport Beach, Calif., native finished second on the team in five of six meets. Powers broke the 18-minute 5k mark for the first time of her career at the Charlotte Invitational, finishing in a time of 17:52.9.
Powers finished sixth overall at the Blue Ridge Open in 18:17.2, and she placed 59th overall at the ACC Championships. She also turned in a personal-best 6k time of 21:36.4 at the NCAA Southeast Regional en route to a 47th-place finish.
Juniors Casey Fowler and Allison Homer each raced in five meets for the Deacs during 2011. Homer's season-best 5k time of 18:21.5 came at the Charlotte Invitational, while she achieved a personal-best 6k mark of 22:31.1 at the NCAA Regional to place third on the team.
Fowler placed fourth on the team in three meets this season, including both the ACC Championships and the NCAA Southeast Regional. Fowler's season-best 6k time of 22:40.2 came at the Regional meet.
The freshman duo of Kaitlyn Oliver and Aubrey Waggoner proved to be strong contributors to the Wake Forest scoring totals during the season, as each placed as high as third overall among Wake Forest runners in separate meets.
Oliver enjoyed a third-place team finish at the ACC Championships in a time of 22:56.7 before following up with a fifth-place team finish at the Regional meet. Waggoner turned in a personal-best 5k time of 18:23.2 at the Charlotte Invitational, in addition to finishing third among Wake Forest runners and 37th overall at the Clemson Invitational with a personal-best 6k time of 22:33.02.
"I gained a lot of valuable experience throughout the season and it was great to be a part of such a close team," said Waggoner. "As a team, we showed improvement each meet so I'm very excited for track season and can't wait to see what we can do in cross country next year."
Freshman Natalie Sukramani raced in two meets for the Deacs this season, finishing sixth on the team in each of them. Sophomores Caitlin Hartnett and Lindsay Kerr raced in one meet apiece, as Hartnett finished in 22:07 (5k) at the Covered Bridge Open and Kerr finished in 21:31.1 (5k) at the Charlotte Invitational.
Check back to WakeForestSports.com tomorrow for a season review of the Demon Deacon men's cross country team, along with a video interview from assistant coach Brad Hunt.