Women's Cross Country primed for promising year
The start of the 2012 women's cross country season begins today with the Houston Invitational. Last season was solid, but it that fell short of immense preseason expecations that included the possibility of a first-place finish in Conference USA. The team still finished strong in third place behind tough competition from Southern Methodist University and the University of Tulsa at the 2011 C-USA Cross Country Championships,
led by the senior trio of Becky Wade, Allison Pye and Halsey Fowler. Wade came in fifth place at the championships, followed by Pye in sixth. Fowler finished the race in 17th place out of 92 runners. Wade and Pye were both named to the C-USA AllConference First Team, and Fowler was awarded recognition in the Third Team.
The team went on to the NCAA South Central Regional in Waco, Texas with high aspirations However, the women missed a third-place finish by one point and were thus unable to advance further. However, Wade was able to qualify individually, going on to finish in 23rd out of 254 to end her decorated career as an Owl.
Entering the 2012 season, the team has lost three of its top five runners from last year in Wade, Pye, and Fowler. With the departure of these three athletes, the team must look to seniors Lindsay Miller and Farah Madanay to pave the way for Rice as last year's seniors did. Senior Heather Olson and sophomore Allie Schaich will also be counted on to play crucial roles.
It will be tough to step into the shoes of last year's top runners, but the outlook seems bright, thanks in no small part to the addition of a remarkably talented freshman class headed by Eleanor Wardleworth and Cali Roper.
Roper, a Texas native, won the 2011 Foot Locker Cross Country Championship in the Seeded Girls division of the South region, while Wardleworth has brought her considerable talent to Rice from Australia to help the Owls contend this season.
After the Houston Invitational the team will compete in the 37th Annual Justin F. Cooper Memorial Rice Invitational at on the Rice Intramural Fields on Sept. 14.
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