Wednesday, September 4, 2013

NCAA Top 31 XC Countdown: Women's #2- Providence

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.

#2 Providence
Head Coach: Ray Treacy (30th Season)
2012 National Finish- 2nd

Key Returners from 2012
  • Sarah Collins (So., 9:26 Open 3k, 16:19 5k, 10th NCAA XC '12)
  • Emily Sisson (Sr., 9:06 Open 3k, 15:34 5k, 33:02 10k, 15th NCAA XC '12)
  • Laura Nagel (Sr., 9:24 Open 3k, 15:50 5k, 33:46 10k, 35th NCAA XC '12)
  • Erin Murphy (Sr., 16:32 5k, 35:46 10k)
  • Grace Thek (Sr., 9:43 Open 3k, 16:54 5k)

Impact Recruits/Transfers
  • Ashley Erba (Fr., 4:55 1600m, 10:24 3200m, 16:18 5k)
  • Jillian Fanning (Fr., 4:35 1500m, 9:43 3000m, 4 X NXN Qualifier- 28th '09, 6th '10, 4th '11, 21st '12)
  • Keelin Hollowood (Fr., 4:33 1500m, 6:43 2k Steeple, 5 X NXN Qualifier- 40th '08, 25th '09, 55th '10, 28th '11, 48th '12)
  • Catarina Rocha (Fr., 4:49 1 Mile, 10:26 2 Mile, 3 X FL Finalist- 31st '10, 7th '11, 2nd '12)

Season Preview

After a very surprising (to some) second place finish at NCAAs in Louisville last year, and spent the first few moments following the race thinking they won, Coach Ray Treacy and his Providence team bring back their three headed monster to lead them in the 2013 season. 

That three headed monster includes Sarah Collins, Emily Sisson and Laura Nagel, all of them All-Americans from NCAAs XC 2012. With those three returning alone, the Friars look like an easy podium team if they have some OK girls to back them up in the no. 4-5 spot. What makes them even scarier is their recruiting class, that could be considered the best in the country. 

The most talented girl on the team, especially on the track, is Emily Sisson. Her breakout track season this past spring, where she ran 33:02 for 10k at the Big East Championships (who does that at a conference meet?) is a good indication of where her progression is at and what she is capable this upcoming season. If she can roll with the momentum from track she is a top-10 individual at NCAAs. 

The no. 1 returner for Providence from 2012 on the xc course is Sarah Collins of Ireland. Her 10th place finish at NCAAs XC last season was big-time for the Friars and her and Sisson up front are a very scary duo, not including Nagel. Collins was the front runner for Providence at every meet in 2012 and will not be relenting that position to Sisson any time soon. That is the beauty of having two outstanding runners pushing each other up front, they make one another better. 

Not to forget the third member of the Friars 1-2-3, Laura Nagel also returns from her All-American performance in Louisville. Nagel actually has better track PRs than Collins does and is, like Sisson, coming off of a very good track season this spring. All of this is good news for Providence because Nagel is a potential top-20 individual finisher at NCAAs. 

With three girls potentially placing in the top-20 at Nats, Providence seems like a shoo-in for at least a podium finish if not better. It only gets scarier for everyone else in the country with the recruiting class that Coach Treacy pulled in. 

What makes the Providence recruiting class so good is the amount of girls with high-level quality cross country running experience in high school. Every single one of the athletes listed above in the recruit section, were big-time prep runners. 

Ashley Erba was dominant on the track, especially for 5k. Her NBON 5k championship in 2012 was no joke and if she's healthy she's a very good no. 4-5 runner in the Providence pack. 

Jillian Fanning and Keelin Hollowood can be thrown into the same mix as very experienced high school runners. Combined these girls competed in nine Nike Cross National Champioship races. Both have similar track PRs, but Fanning was a little bit better in every NXN that they ran. The real question with these two (and with their whole class potentially) is their upside. Fayetteville-Manlius (where Fanning went) and Saratoga Springs (where Hollwood went) are both known for being high mileage schools that get a lot out of their kids in high school. 

The good news is that both of these girls are very talented, and Fanning's sister still continued to improve in college at Albany after going through the same program. Fanning also did improve every year but last year (the mudder year) and that is a good indication of where her ceiling is. It will be interesting to see where Hollowood ends up in the Friar depth chart, but the experience that she has gained from all of those championship level teams is definitely not going to hurt her. 

Last but definitely not least on the recruiting side is Foot Locker 2012 runner-up Catarina Rocha. While improving all three of her Foot Locker Finals races since 2010, her upside is seemingly very high and is instant offense for the Friars if she stays healthy. Rocha has been one of the most consistent cross country runners in high school over the past three years. Providence can plug in just about any of these new freshman girls and they will be just fine. 

Coach Ray Treacy has done a great job of preparing his athletes to run well at the NCAAs and should be no different this year in Terre Haute. If five of these girls can stay healthy and peak at the right time, there is only one team standing in their way of a national championship and that team is going to have to be on their "A" game to hold Providence off, come November. 

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