2011 Duquesne Women's Cross Country Preview

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2011 Duquesne Women’s Cross-Country Preview.

Ah, labor day weekend.  For most college students, it’s a time to wrap up summer and get started studying.  For cross-country runners, it holds a special place though, as it’s always the weekend of the first meet of the year.  Let’s take a preseason look at the 2011 Women’s XC team…
Last Season:  Tied for 5th in the Atlantic 10, 11th in the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region
Top Returners:

Amber Valimont, SOPH:  A previous PIAA Champ in the mile in track while at Hempfield, Valimont was 24th in the A10 as a freshman at the Schenley course last season.  In track, she placed 7th in the Atlantic 10 in all 3 of her events, setting school records in the 1500 and 4x800 relay as well as the #2 overall Duquesne mark in the 5k in the process.  Not blessed with great foot speed, she makes up for it with strength and endurance.  She should be a solid top runner for the Dukes squad.
Emily Ballantyne, JUNIOR:  Came through with a career-best performance at the A10 Championships last year, placing 29th after placing 36th as a freshman.  She also placed 42nd in the Mid-Atlantic Regionals last year. 
Meg Ecker, SENIOR.  Coming off a sophomore year where she was 12th in the Atlantic 10, Ecker finished 39th in the A10 last year with a 5k personal record (PR) of 18:41.  Placed 12th in the Atlantic 10 10k in track.
Bethany Walker, SENIOR.  Finished 32nd in the A10 as a sophomore.  Last year, as a junior, she placed 51st.  The former Ellwood City product was a top 10 runner in the PIAA AA Cross-Country Champs in high school.
Haley Pisarcik, SOPH:  Was a WPIAL AA 800 meter dash champion in high school as well as part of the 4x800 meter relay with Amber Valimont that set the school record.  Came on strong at the ECAC meet to end the season, placing 4th among all Dukes.
Incoming Freshmen:
Jenna Gigliotti (Norwin).  Won the WPIAL Cross-Country AAA Championship in 2009 (unfortunately hit by the flu bug for the PIAA Champs), 2nd in the WPIAL to Natalie Bower (Latrobe and Penn State) the year before.  Also considered Maryland and Wake Forest.  Will join former Norwin teammates Shelby Haitz and Dave Farina.  Has struggled through sicknesses as well as a stress fracture throughout her high school career.  A gamble well worth taking by Coach Lear in my opinion.
Danica Snyder (Butler).  Finished 5th in the WPIAL in cross-country, 40th in the PIAA.  Captained the distance squad for Butler’s WPIAL Champion track team.  Joins current teammate Gomez, also of Butler
Kendall Seymour (Central Cambria):  Finished 14th in the PIAA AA Cross-Country Championships.
Atlantic 10 Prediction:
5th.  Last year, the Dukes tied for 5th with Charlotte, both one slot behind St. Louis.  Duquesne has 4 of their top 5 returning from last year’s team.  However, Charlotte also returns 4 of their top 5 and St.  Louis also returns 6 of their top 7.  It should make for an interesting middle of the pack in the A10 this upcoming year in what appears to be a race for 4th, with Dayton appearing to be ahead in 3rd. 

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