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Aug. 23, 2005

With four scorers returning from the NCAA Regional meet in which the Cavaliers narrowly missed a berth to the NCAA meet, excitement abounds for the Virginia women’s cross country team as they head into the 2005 season. Three All-Regional performers are back on the roster as the Cavaliers look to return to the NCAA meet, including Emily Harrison, who represented the USA at the North American, Central America, and Caribbean Cross Country Championships after qualifying for the NCAA meet in her first year as a collegiate harrier.

The Cavaliers will combine a veteran roster with a solid group of incoming athletes to make their move back into the nation’s elite. While the Hoos have a veteran core, they are still a young team as the only senior in eligibiility on the squad is Shannon Hawrylo, who earned All-Regional honors in 2004 en route to a breakout season on the track in 2005. Hawrylo qualified for the NCAA regional meet outdoors in May and has used that as a solid base to prepare for the 2005 upcoming season. “Shannon’s spring has really set her up well for a great fall this season,” said Virginia head coach Jason Dunn. Hawrylo’s classmate Kara Scanlin, a red-shirt junior, is back after losing the last two years to injury, and the Cavaliers hope that she will return to the success of her first year, in which she earned All-ACC and All-Region honors in cross country. Joining these two is classmate Laura Hodges, also a red-shirt junior, who has varisty experience from thhe last two seasons.

A strong junior class will help bolster Virginia’s campaign this fall, led by Angie Saterstad, who has run in the top group the last two seasons and “is ready to really contribute,” according to Dunn. Along with Saterstad is Kelly Swain, who has run at the NCAA Regional meet in each of the last two years. Classmate Janine Ricci will be a sophomore in eligibility, and she is a two-time NCAA Regional qualifier in the steeplechase who already ranks among the best in Virginia history in that event. After a redshirt season in cross country in 2004, Ricci is ready to build on a solid outdoor season to boost the Cavaliers’ hopes in 2005.

Part of the veteran core of the Cavalier squad will be a young group of sophomores who were a key part of Virginia’s national ranking in 2004 and are ready to lead the Hoos even higher in 2005. Leading the charge is NCAA qualifier and USA team member Emily Harrison, who returns for her second year as a Cavalier harrier. “Emily had an outstanding first year, and her international experience will be a key for us in 2005,” said Dunn.

Classmate Jen Beury also returns for her second year after running as Virginia’s fifth runner at the NCAA Regional meet in 2004, where the Cavaliers finished fifth as a team. Rising second years Kristen Milot, Suzanne Ginnow, and Katie Read are all returning for Virginia after redshirting 2004, adding talented depth to a group of veterans.

Virginia welcomes a strong first-year class to the squad, including Pennsylvania State Champion Lauretta Dezubay. Dezubay has won three titles over 1600 and 3200m in high school, and “we hope she will make an immediate impact for us,” said Dunn. Joining Dezubay is Danielle Light, who is the Virginia state champion in the indoor mile and earned All-American honors last year on the track.

After narrowly missing a bid to the NCAA meet in 2004, the Cavaliers are looking to get back to the form from the early part of the decade in which Virginia posted back-to-back top-20 finishes at the NCAA Championships (9th, 2001; 20th, 2002). “We can get back to NCAAs with our squad,” said Dunn. “They have experience and talent and a strong desire to move back into the upper echelon of the nation’s elite.”

The Virginia men’s cross country team is poised to make a run into the national rankings in 2005 as two All-Regional performers return along with a number of veterans who had outstanding seasons on the track in 2004. Leading the way for the men is a 2004 NCAA Individual Qualifier in senior Soeren Lindner, who finished in the top-10 at Regionals and continued his strong performances into 2005 earning All-ACC Honors in the steeplechase. Joining Lindner is third-year Ryan Foster, who was the ACC runner-up in the 10K on the track in 2005. “I expect Soeren and Ryan to be front-runners for us in 2005,” said Dunn. “Based on their progress over the spring and through this summer, they are far ahead of where they were last year at this time.”

A strong junior class will be a key to the Cavaliers’ success. Andrew Dumm, who scored in the ACC 10K in 2005, is back for his third season along with Kevin McHale, who was the Hoos’ fifth man at the NCAA Regional meet in 2004. Joining these two is Virginia’s top returning miler, Alex Tatu, who was the ACC runner-up in both the 800m and 1500m runs in 2005. Tatu’s experience on the track will be key for the Cavaliers, who hope that he is able to translate that success to the cross country course. Tatu’s NCAA experience (indoor DMR, 2005; cross country, 2003) will add veteran guidance to the men as they make their push to return to NCAA’s as a team. Several other members of the strong junior class include Jeff Eggleston, Matt Gutridge and Taylor Smith (red-shirt sophomore) who will add depth to a men’s roster that is already stacked.

The Cavalier men will also welcome a strong incoming class, which is led by 2004 Footlocker finalist Andy Biladeau. Biladeau had an outstanding high school career and Dunn feels that he can contend for one of the top-seven spots in his first year. Joining Biladeau is rookie Andrew Jesien, who won the mile at the prestigious Penn Relays in 2004. “He [Jesien] won several state championships along with the mile at Penn Relays and was also a strong cross country runner who we feel can contribute immediately,” said Dunn. Joining this rookie class is Junior transfer Jan Foerster, hailing from Germany, who has run some very strong times on the track and should have an immediate impact in cross country for the Cavaliers.

The men’s team has been third at the ACC meet in four of the last five years, and that consistency has prepared the Cavaliers with a strong foundation to take a big step forward as a program. “We are looking to improve on our position at all levels, in the ACC, the Southeast Region and at NCAA’s,” said Dunn,” and this squad has the potential to do just that.”

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