Women’s cross country captures fifteenth BIG EAST championship

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COURTESY OF VILLANOVA.COM

The Wildcats dominated the BIG EAST championships to claim the programs fifteenth BIG EAST conference title.

On Saturday, Oct. 28 the Wildcats claimed their 15th BIG EAST conference championship, and their first since 2011, at the Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course in Kenosha Wisconsin. Six Wildcats earned All-BIG EAST honors as the team made a strong push during the later stages of the 6,000 meter race to finish on top of second-placed Providence by a seven point margin.

The Wildcats trailed Providence and Georgetown at the halfway point of the race and were 14 points behind Providence who led the pack. However, the Wildcats finished with 39 points to claim the title as Providence tallied 46 in second place.

Junior Bella Burda spearheaded the Wildcats’ winning effort with a third place finish in a field comprised of 89 runners. Fellow junior Nicole Hutchinson finished in fifth place with freshman Lauren Ryan in sixth and junior Kaley Ciluffo in seventh to round out the group. For their standout performances the Wildcat runners were rewarded with first team All-BIG EAST honors.

Seniors Siofra Cleirigh Buttner and Katie Fisher also won accolades for their impressive performances and earned second team All-BIG EAST honors with eighteenth and twentieth place finishes.

The team’s 15 BIG EAST titles makes them the strongest program in recent BIG EAST conference history by some distance. Even though it had been six years since the team’s last title in 2011 they have an immense track record, and this year’s team may be the best yet with six runners earning all-conference honors. While this was the fifth time the Wildcats had put six runners in the top 20 at the BIG EAST meet, it was also the highest number the team had placed in the top 20 in 25 years.

The rest of the Wildcat finishers all finished inside of the top 50. Graduate student Maria Seykora finished twentyfirst, freshman Rachel McArthur twentythird, freshman Alex Harris fortieth and sophomore Ann Campbell rounded out the group with a fortyseventh place finish.

After their successes in the BIG EAST the Wildcats were rewarded with a national ranking of nine, the teams highest ranking since 2013. With their championship pedigree the Wildcats will be targeting the title at this years Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships on Nov. 10 in Bethlehem, PA.

Should the Wildcats claim first or second place, they will earn an automatic bid to this years NCAA Championships.