Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cross Country Championship Preview

"What once was old is new again."

That quote could sum up the 14th annual Centennial Conference cross country championships, slated for Saturday at Dickinson College. The Haverford College men have won the previous 13 titles and, with a No. 8 national ranking entering the meet, are the prohibitive favorites to extend their streak. The Dickinson College women have a streak of their own, winning the last six championships, while also sporting a No. 8 national ranking.

The men's race starts the day at 11 a.m. on the 8100-meter Carlisle High School course. Haverford has the top three runners in the Conference, according to the CC coaches rankings, led by Don Letts (Climax, MI / Portage Northern). Zach Vaslow (Bethesda, MD / Bethesda-Chevy Chase) and Andrew Lanham (Wooster, OH / Wooster) are 2-3 on the list, while teammates Taylor Burmeister (Concord, MA / Concord-Carlisle), Jamie Jablin (Chambersburg, PA / Chambersburg) and Michael Jablin (Chambersburg, PA / Chambersburg) are also in the top 10. How perennially strong are the Fords? In four of the past six championships, Haverford has scored less than 20 points as a team. The four runners with the best chance to break the Ford stranglehold are Muhlenberg's Lex Mercado (Philadelphia, PA / Penn Charter) and Stephen Rothwell (Harrington Park, NJ / Northern Valley Old Tappan), Swarthmore's Vernon Chaplin (Indian Springs, AL / Indian Springs), and Dickinson's Matt Liebal (Oakdale, CT / Montville). Vaslow and Liebal have the opportunity to become the ninth and 10th runners in Conference history to earn first-team All-Centennial honors (finish in the top seven) three times. The Mules (ranked fourth in the Mideast Region), Red Devils (7th) and Garnet (8th) will be in a heated battle for the No. 2 spot behind the Fords.

The Red Devil women have four runners among the top six contending for the gold medal on the 6K loop. Caitlin Bradley (Fairfield, CT / Fairfield Warde) (pictured) finished second last season and is ranked just ahead of Darcy McDonald (Lititz, PA / Warwick) at the top of the CC coaches chart. Becca Trosch (Towson, MD / Loch Raven) and Laura Straw (Fairport, NY / Fairport) are 4-6. Haverford's women's team is ranked No. 22 nationally and is led by Annick Lamar (Hamilton, NJ / Hamilton North) and Jane Weber (Oak Park, IL / Oak Park River Forest). The Fords have finished second to Dickinson in each of the last six seasons and are ranked 2nd in the Mideast Region behind the Devils. Also keep an eye on Johns Hopkins first-year Laura Paulsen (Lutherville, MD / Bryn Mawr) at the front of the pack, along with Franklin & Marshall's Karen Ziga (Haverford, PA / Haverford), Bryn Mawr's Katie Weng (Paramus, NJ / Saddle River Day), and Swarthmore's Nyika Corbett (Myrtle Point, OR / Myrtle Point). Paulsen has won four of her five races this fall. McDonald (5th), Weber (6th) and Straw (7th), along with Bradley, all earned first-team All-Centennial recognition in 2005.

Championship website
Previous Men's Champions: Haverford (1993-2005).
Previous Women's Champions: Dickinson (1997-98-00-01-02-03-04-05), Haverford (1993-95-96), McDaniel (1999), Gettysburg (1994).

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