Friday, August 23, 2013

NCAA XC Top 31 Countdown: Women's #8- William and Mary

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.

William and Mary
Head Coach: Jill Miller (2nd Season)
2012 National Finish- 21st

Key Returners from 2012
  • Elaina Balouris (Sr., 9:34 Open 3k, 16:03 5k, 33:43 10k)
  • Emily Stites (So., 9:34 Open 3k, 15:45 5k, 34:15 10k) 
  • Dylan Hassett (Jr., 9:42 Open 3k, 16:41 5k, 34:54 10k)
  • Carolyn Hennessey (So., 16:51 5k)
  • Meghan McGovern (So., 9:44 Open 3k, 16:34 5k)
Season Preview

Contrary to many of the teams that have been previewed recently, William and Mary is a team with five very talented girls, but not nearly as good of depth. Coach Jill Miller, along side Coach Stephen Walsh, have done a great job finding and recruiting talented athletes, but also being able to catch the diamonds in the rough.

As this team moves forward from its solid and much improved 2012 season where they finished 21st at NCAAs, they have one of the best 1-5s in the country and are prepared to greatly improve upon last season's succcesses.

William and Mary has one of the best 1-2 punches in the country with Elaina Balouris and Emily Stites coming back off of two All-American seasons in 2012. Frankly, had they not been as good as they were last season William and Mary would have been looking at a 25th place finish or worse. The Tribe depends greatly on their abilities and sink or swim with their performances. 

Elaina Balouris is about as pure of a cross country runner as there is in the NCAA. Balouris has the track chops for 10k and the proven ability on the course to put her in the mix of a top-10 finisher at NCAAs. Knowing that her low-stick is vital to this team's success, Balouris is definitely a sleeper from an individual finisher perspective. She could creep up on some athletes at the finish at NCAAs and put herself in contention for the top-10 if not better. 

Emily Stites is one of the most talented sophomores in the NCAA. Along with Laura Hollander (Cal Poly), Sarah Collins (Providence) and Kelsey Lakowske (Duke), Stites is as solid as they come, coming off of her freshman campaign. Some quality world-class racing experience this past winter will help open her eyes to what she is capable of this upcoming fall. Stites is definitely as good as Balouris in cross, with a little bit better speed, she will be dangerous come November. 

William and Mary has three other girls that are very solid 3-5 runners. All have stepped up since their cross country season in 2012, this spring on the track, and their improvement there should produce quality times in cross country. 

Dylan Hassett ran a solid 10k on the track and is a good pack runner. Meghan McGovern also had a good year on the track and will be battling Hassett for the no. 3 slot for the Tribe. McGovern has some upside and if her progression continues she is a top-60 quality girl at NCAAs. 

William and Mary does not have the luxury of having a deep team as some of the schools from the power conferences. On the other hand, they have some very talented athletes that are capable of bringing them into the top-10. As mentioned before, William and Mary goes as Stites and Balouris go. If they have a great year, which they should, and McGovern and Hassett find themselves having break-out years, the Tribe will have one of the best teams in their program history in 2013. 

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