PHILADELPHIA – The Saint Joseph’s women’s cross country squad is set to race the 2018 Atlantic 10 Cross Country Championship this Saturday, October 27. Hosted by the University of Richmond at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, Va., the 5k race is set for 10:00 a.m. The Hawks, who finished 10th a year ago, were predicted to place 10th this fall according to the A-10’s preseason poll, with voting conducted by the league’s 14 head coaches back in late August.
The race will be streamed live on ESPN+, weather permitting.
“I feel really confident with our maturity,” said fourth-year head coach Melody O’Reilly, who will bring a roster of 80 percent juniors and seniors into Saturday’s race. “We certainly can be very competitive this year. If we can find each other and keep moving forward, we will be fine.”
On the course of Pole Green Park, which enters just its fourth season as host site of the A-10 Cross Country Championship, SJU finished sixth in 2013, seventh in 2015, and seventh in 2016.
The Hawks turned in their last top-five finish in 2011 (5th), while SJU’s last A-10 title came in 2000.
The 10 Hawks selected to represent SJU at the 2018 A-10 Cross Country Championship are seniors Elaine Estes (captain), Britton Gagliardi (captain), Lucy Harmon (captain), Lindsey Oremus (captain), and Sara Rankin, juniors Rose Barrett, Emily Bracken, and Emily Schaeffer, and freshmen Gabriella Bamford and Emily Dunn. Sophomore Abigail Silva will serve as the alternate.
Oremus (17:42.7), Gagliardi (18:22.4) and Schaeffer (19:37.4) all set their current 5k PRs at Pole Green Park.
Since her rookie season in 2015, Oremus has led the Hawks in 19 of her 26 races, including four of nine of championship caliber. The senior standout has now made the Hawks’ A-10 roster all four years and scored in her previous three opportunities, finishing as SJU’s #4 runner in 2017, top runner in 2016, and #2 runner in 2015. Oremus owns a pair of top-25 finishes at the conference level, including an All-Conference performance from her sophomore season in which she ran her 5k PR (17:42.7). The captain finished as SJU’s top runner at the Monmouth Invitational, Penn State Spiked Shoe Invitational, and Princeton Invitational this regular season and will be expected to lead the Crimson and Gray come Saturday.
Estes has been SJU’s consistent #2 all season, finishing behind Oremus at Monmouth, Penn State, and Princeton and, in one of the highlights of her senior season, finishing as SJU’s top performer at the Paul Short Run with her first ever sub-23:00 6k. After finishing as SJU’s #2 runner at last year’s conference meet, behind the graduated Cassidy Weimer, where she set her current 5k PR (19:00.0), Estes returns for her third go-around at the league level.
Harmon, who will compete in her second consecutive A-10 meet this Saturday, has been SJU’s consistent #3 all season, taking the Hawks’ third slot at Monmouth, Penn State, and Princeton. The senior turned in SJU’s #3 performance at last year’s A-10 meet and owns a 5k PR of 18:20.3, set at Van Cortlandt Park to close her junior season.
Bracken has been SJU’s consistent #4 all season, taking the Hawks’ fourth slot at Monmouth, Penn State, and Princeton as well as a third slot at the Paul Short Run. Bracken owns a 5k PR of 18:35.6, set at TCNJ in 2017, and enters her third season on the Hawks’ conference travel roster.
The consistent Gagliardi rounds out SJU’s veteran group of captains. Gagliardi joins Oremus in having three A-10 meets under her belt, finishing as SJU’s #7 runner in 2017, #6 runner in 2016, and #4 runner to score in 2015, where she set her 5k PR (18:22.4), at Pole Green Park.
The incredibly improved Rankin (2017 A-10 roster, 19:54.3 PR) and Schaeffer (2016 A-10 roster, 19:37.4 PR), who finished as SJU’s #5 runner at Paul Short and Princeton, also have conference experience under their belts while Barrett (20:00.6 PR) and rookies Bamford and Dunn are set to make their A-10 Cross Country Championship debuts.
The All-Conference team consists of the top 15 finishers, while the Most Outstanding Rookie Performer award is given to the highest-placing freshman in each race.