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2017 Women's Cross Country Season Preview

Centennial Rookie of the Year Rebecca Grusby and the rest of the team looks to add to the trophy case.
Aug. 31, 2017

BALTIMORE, MD – Coming off of its fourth National Championship in the last five years, and nine straight Centennial Conference and NCAA Mideast Regional titles, the Johns Hopkins women’s cross country team will begin the season on September 1 at the Mustang Stampede at 6 pm.

Welcome Back:
Head coach Bobby Van Allen welcomes back six of his top seven runners from last season, including All-Americans Felicia Koerner and Natalia LaSpada as well as Centennial Rookie of the Year Rebecca Grusby and All-Region runners Ellie Clawson and Gina D’Addario. LaSpada ran a personal best time of 21:15.1 in the NCAA Championships and Koerner won the Centennial Conference title with a personal record time of 20:56.4. Tasha Freed also returns to the team after sitting out last season, and she took third place in this year’s time trial, while Caroline Smith, a 2015 All-American, finished fifth. In the time trials, Koerner took first with a mark of 10:47.4 and was followed by Clawson (10:58.0) and Freed (10.59.3).

Welcome to Homewood:
The Blue Jays welcome seven freshmen to the team: Joy Huang, Ava Kelley, Leigha Martin, Therese Olshanski, Beatriz Ruan, Maisy Webster and Hailey Sheppell. Olshanski, a mid-distance specialist, led the group in the time trial with a fourth-place finish with a time of 11:01.8, and according to Van Allen, could make a splash in the top seven. Van Allen also has two new assistant coaches in Julie Kocjancic and Maura Linde, who Van Allen says have already made a big impact on the team with their enthusiasm and personal attention.

The Schedule:
The Jays once again have a very competitive eight-meet schedule, which includes three big invitationals. The first is on September 15 at the Iona Meet of Champions, where Hopkins expects to compete against Division I teams Princeton, Iona and Arkansas. The Paul Short Invitational, which is the largest meet on the east coast, will also provide tough competition as it will feature Duke, Columbia, Cornell, Penn, Georgia and Villanova among many other Division I entries. The team will round out the 2017 invitational schedule at the Pre-NCAA Invitational.

Coaches Thoughts:
“As we wrap up preseason, I’m very excited and optimistic about this year’s team. The team culture, support and comradery have been absolutely amazing and will certainly play a large role in our team success. We have so much depth and they all support one another; this could really be a special team. We have a fantastic schedule that will certainly give us opportunities to run against some of the top Division I programs in the country to prepare this team for NCAA’s in November.”

By The Numbers:
1 – The Blue Jays earned the top spot in the Centennial Conference, USTFCCCA Mideast Regional and the USTFCCA National Coaches Poll.

4 – National Championships for Johns Hopkins in the last five years.

9 – Centennial Conference and NCAA Regional titles for the Blue Jays in the last nine years.

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