Women’s cross country enters a new era

Zach Smart

In the very back of Shawn Green’s office, a towering shelf carries a truckload of glistening ornaments. Trophies, plaques, glass cups, and batons of blue luster which represent NCAA championship appearances are all displayed on this shelf.

Sitting below the shelf is a certificate that dwarfs all of the above. It reads: “Kathryn Gwyther: All-American.”

Green and the Bobcats are now entering the post-Katie Gwyther era at Quinnipiac. For the past four years, Gwyther was an invaluable force. First place finish after first place finish, course record after course record, Gwyther took the NEC world by storm. She garnered QU some national visibility in the process.

Though the Bobcats no longer have the services of such a decorated athlete, they return a potent nucleus of runners. Green believes his team has more than enough to cushion the loss of Gwyther.

“We bring back everybody but Katie,” Green said. “Obviously it hurts to lose somebody like that. But I think at times last year, it seemed Katie got all the credit. Not that she didn’t deserve it, but there was a team effort for what we did last year.”

The 2005 NEC champions are projected to repeat the glory. They were picked first in the conference’s preseason coaches poll for the first time in program history.

“With the experience that we have, I don’t think (the preseason number one ranking) is a real shock to the team,” said Green.

Green believes that an influx of talent from both freshman and graduate students, along with a group of senior leaders, namely All-New England selection Jenna Nechamen and Danielle Green, will help catapult the Bobcats to the top of the NEC.

They are looking beyond that this year, as well. One of the team’s preseason goals is to evolve into one of New England’s upper-echelon cross country teams.

Nechamen was the Bobcats’ top runner behind Gwyther last season. She was the fifth runner to cross the finish line in the Stony Brook Invitational last year (a meet in which Gwyther did not compete), and Green saw it as an indication of her maturation as a runner.

“Hopefully Jenna will be the person that really is leading the charge, literally,” Green said.

Green referenced Lindsey Pierret and Kristen Stevens, two of New Jersey’s elite distance runners last year, as two freshmen he sees contributing right away.

“I think those are two people that are going to make a big impact,” he said.

Their ability to stay healthy this fall, however, will dictate their success.

“We’ve got some injury issues right now, so it remains to be seen with them,” Green said.

The Bobcats also hope to repeat their success in the classroom. They’re looking to earn Academic All-American status for the sixth time in the past seven seasons.