Wednesday, July 31, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Women's #23 Cornell

Editor's note: For the next month, The Wood Report will be counting down projected team finishes in this year's NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, IN.

Head Coach: Artie Smith (15th Season)
2012 National Finish- 13th

Key Returners from 2012
  • Rachel Sorna (Sr., 9:12 Open 3k, 15:53 5k, 9:50 3k Steeple, 33:34 10k)
  • Emily Shearer (Sr., 9:17 Open 3k)
  • Devin McMahon (Sr., 16:37 5k, 34:04 10k)
  • Caroline Kellner (So., 9:37 Open 3k, 16:23 5k)
  • Dina Iacone (So., 16:56 5k, 35:35 10k)
  • Claire DeVoe (So., 10:20 3k Steeple)

Season Preview

Of all of the rankings and previews that have been done so far the Cornell Women's Cross Country team could be the most underrated. Cornell ran out of their minds in Louisville last season where they qualified for the championships for the first time since 2001 and made their best of the situation. Their 13th overall team finish was the best this team has finished since 1993. 

Coach Artie Smith is a very good developer of his athletes and has proved himself with the women he has coming back for 2013. With six of the nine girls that competed on the Ivy League HEPS Conference Championship winning team in 2012, Cornell is back and could be better than ever. 

Rachel Sorna and Emily Shearer are the two front-runners returning for the Big Red that will assume their role once again in 2013. Sorna had a very good indoor and outdoor track season where she finished 11th at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 5000m (she ran 15:59 and was the first time she did not finish in the top ten all season) and fourth at the NCAA Championships in the 3k Steeple. Sorna is almost a lock (no one is ever a lock in xc though) to be an All-American. 

Emily Shearer was so unbelievably consistent in 2012 and that is what makes her so valuable to this team. Shearer was 2nd at the HEPS Conference meet and was 15th overall at the Northeast Regional. A mediocre NCAA meet will bring her back motivated and ready to finish the season off strong. 

Caroline Kellner and Devin McMahon are both extremely solid no. 3-4 runners and would be a lot of teams in the NCAAs 1-2. Both have mid-16 minute 5k PRs and have pretty good range. If these two can stay healthy that will keep the Big Red spread very tight. 

A no. 5 runner will be essential to find for Cornell in 2012. If they can find a good fifth, Cornell should be looking at repeat HEPS titles and a shot at the top 10 at NCAAs. The concern, and this is where the ranking comes in, is if they can find one. 

Some good options are Dina Iacone and and Claire Devoe. Devoe had a good outdoor track season where she qualified for the East Regional in the 3k Steeple. Iacone will need to improve upon her outdoor track season in order for her to take the no. 5 spot. 

If one of these two athletes or anyone else that comes out of the very good Big Red depth can fill the hole in the place of the fifth runner, Cornell will be one to watch for in 2013. Granted the Northeast Regional is a beast with Providence, Uconn, Harvard, Boston College, and Syracuse all vying for a spot at the Big Dance. But with the amazing depth and the quality returners that Cornell has, they are going to put a lot fear into the coaches of the perennial powers in the Northeast Region.  

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