Eight-Time Defending Conference Champ Women's Cross Country Vies for First MAAC Title on Friday

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HAMDEN, Conn. – A pair of eight-time reigning conference champs figure to go head-to-head on Friday as the Quinnipiac women's cross country team heads to Van Cortlandt Park for their first MAAC Championship. The Bobcats will be looking to make it nine straight conference titles having departed the Northeast Conference as the eight-time defending champion. Some stiff competition awaits however, as Iona comes into Friday as winners of the MAAC in eight straight conference championship meets. Both dominate teams in their separate conferences, both Iona and Quinnipiac have beaten the runner-up team by an average of over 30 points in the eight-year span.

Season Highlights

The Bobcats kickstarted their season by winning the Stony Brook Invitational in their first event of the season. An incredible total of seven Bobcats placed in the Top 15 overall out of 68 runners in the 4k event. Leading the way for Quinnipiac was a freshman running in her first ever event as a Bobcat. Niamh Ashe burst onto the scene with a third place finish to become the first Bobcat freshman since Becca White in 2009 to finish in the Top 5 overall at an event. Following Ashe was Tracy Campbell in 6th place, Brianna Faust in 7th and Rebecca Morse in 10th as they all combined for their third, fifth and first career Top 10 finish, respectively.

Their early season success continued into the Bryant Invitational as four Bobcats placed in the Top 20 to help Quinnipiac claim second place overall out of nine teams including then-No. 25 nationally-ranked Boston College. Jessica Soja was the lead runner, crossing the line in ninth place for her fifth career Top 10 result, while Chelsea Savage (12th), Amanda Faust (14th) and Allison Decker (20th) all helped lift the team to their second place showing. Soja's triumph helped earn her the first MAAC Runner of the Week award of her career.

In what was the first and only meeting between the Bobcats and Iona this season, Quinnipiac placed just 22 points behind the Gaels at the Iona Meet of Champions. The Bobcats finished in third place overall out of 20 teams. Highlighting the day for Quinnipiac was another strong showing by their freshman standout Ashe. She picked up her second Top 10 finish, crossing the line in 7th place overall after navigating her way around of field of 190 total runners. Campbell just missed a Top 20 result as she landed herself in 21st place, less than a second behind the 20th place finisher.

The upward trend continued into the Paul Short Women's Gold 6k Run where Ashe was the catalyst with a 35th place finish out of a season-high field of 406 competitors. As a team, the Bobcats placed 20th out of 48 teams, receiving great improvements from the likes of Soja, Brianna Faust and Campbell. All three key contributors improved upon their time from the 2012 Paul Short Invitational with Campbell's time of 22:18 being the most-improved from a year ago (24:00).

Perhaps the most impressive result of the 2013 season followed as Quinnipiac placed 6th out of 43 teams in the New England Varsity Championship. Ashe posted an 11th place finish out of a field of 283 competitors to land a spot on the All-New England team. The Bobcats moved up three spots form their 9th place finish in the 2012 New England Championships and had an All-New England runner for the first time since Becca White in 2011. Brianna Faust posted her best race of the season with a time of 18:21 from Franklin Park, improving on her time from last year's event by more than 12 seconds.

Nine Quinnipiac seniors were honored before the start of last week's CCSU Mini Meet, an event in which the Bobcats took 7th place out of 15 teams. Fittingly enough, all six of the Bobcats' top finishers for the meet are members of the Class of 2014. Soja was the top finisher, placing 7th overall out of 137 for her sixth career Top 10 result.


Top Performers to Watch for 2013 MAAC Championship

Niamh Ashe

Stepped in as the top Bobcat performer all season in just her first year with the team. Ashe has placed first among all Quinnipiac competitors in 2013 in all four races in which she competed. Already an All-New England performer and one-time winner of the MAAC Runner of the Week Award, Ashe figures to contend for a top spot in the meet after having already placed 7th at Van Cortlandt Park in the Iona Meet of Champions.

Individual Results (team finish/overall finish) during 2013 season

3rd/1st                   14:19.18              Stony Brook Invitational

7th/1st                   22:52.88              Iona Meet of Champions

35th/1st                21:16                    Paul Short

11th/1st                17:49                    New England Varsity Championship

Tracy Campbell

Stepping in after a strong freshman campaign with a solid sophomore season was Campbell. The Wall Township, N.J. native finished as the second-fastest Bobcat in two different events this season starting with the Stony Brook Invitational where she crossed the line in 6th place overall, good enough for her third career Top 10 finish.

Individual Results (team finish/overall finish) during 2013 season

6th/2nd                 15:34.66              Stony Brook Invitational

21st/2nd               23:36.88              Iona Meet of Champions

165th/4th             22:18                    Paul Short

40th/3rd               18:31                    New England Varsity Championship

Allison Decker

Another member of the Bobcats' strong class of underclassmen competed in three events this season with her best event coming in the Bryant Invitational, crossing the line in 20th place overall, fourth fastest on the team.

Individual Results (team finish/overall finish) during 2013 season

20th/4th                19:04.2                Bryant Invitational

242nd/7th            22:55                    Paul Short

133rd/7th             19:24                    New England Varsity Championship

Amanda Faust

After helping lead the team to three straight conference championships in her first three years, Amanda will look to make it a perfect four-for-four on Friday. Already a two-time All-NEC performer, Amanda is known for stepping up the clutch. She comes in after another solid campaign, finishing as high as third on the team (twice) as well as a 66th place result at the New England Championships.

Individual Results (team finish/overall finish) during 2013 season

14th/3rd               18:51.5                Bryant Invitational

38th/5th                24:00                    Iona Meet of Champions

227th/6th             22:47                    Paul Short

66th/5th                18:49                    New England Varsity Championship

42nd/3rd              10:44.09              CCSU Mini Meet

Brianna Faust

The only current Bobcat to earn All-Conference honors three times in her career. Brianna Faust has had a breakout senior year, finishing no worse than third on the team in any race this season. Her season started with a 10th place finish at the Bryant Invitational, which was good enough for her fifth career Top 10. Brianna is coming into the first MAAC Championship on a hot streak as she finished a career-best 30th in the New England Championships.

Individual Results (team finish/overall finish) during 2013 season

10th/3rd               15:51.89              Bryant Invitational

25th/3rd               23:39.63              Iona Meet of Champions

121st/3rd             22:00                    Paul Short

30th/2nd               18:21                    New England Varsity Championship

21st/2nd               10:27.79              CCSU Mini Meet

Christina Faust

The third member of the Faust set of triplets has had a sudden surge within the past few meets as she was the fastest runner for Quinnipiac in the New England Sub-Varsity Championship (12th overall). She was also the fifth fastest Bobcat in the CCSU Mini Meet just last week.

Individual Results (team finish/overall finish) during 2013 season

30th/5th                19:15.6                Bryant Invitational

62nd/8th               24:35.28              Iona Meet of Champions

293rd/9th             23:15                    Paul Short

12th/1st                19:12                    New England Sub-Varsity Championship

52nd/5th               10:52.45              CCSU Mini Meet

Jill Humphreys

The longest-tenured Bobcat on the roster has had another solid campaign, competing in four events this season and finishing as high as third on the team. Humphreys will certainly be a looked-to leader out of the course on Friday with her five years of experience.

Individual Results (team finish/overall finish) during 2013 season

44th/7th                24:05.31              Iona Meet of Champions

270th/8th             23:07                    Paul Short

19th/3rd               19:21                    New England Sub-Varsity Championship

43rd/4th               10:44.42              CCSU Mini Meet

Chelsea Savage

Shined throughout the season as she continued to progress after a strong rookie campaign. She kickstarted her year with the best result of the season, a 12th place result, good enough for second-best on the team, at the Bryant Invitational. She bested her 2012 time at the Bryant Invite by more than a minute and will look to add some depth with the Bobcats top runners.

Individual Results (team finish/overall finish) during 2013 season

12th/2nd               18:44.5                Bryant Invitational

40th/6th                24:01.21              Iona Meet of Champions

186th/5th             22:27                    Paul Short

121st/6th              19:19                    New England Varsity Championship

Jessica Soja

She burst onto the scene in 2012, ending her season with an All-Conference performance at the NEC Championship. Soja won her first career Runner of the Week after racing to a 9th place finish, tops on the team, at the Bryant Invitational. She has proved herself amongst crowded fields before including this season as she placed 119th at the Paul Short Race, second fastest on the team.

Individual Results (team finish/overall finish) during 2013 season

9th/1st                   18:32.4                Bryant Invitational

31st/4th                23:50.37              Iona Meet of Champions

119th/2nd            21:59                    Paul Short

46th/4th                18:38                    New England Varsity Championship

8th/1st                   10:18.04              CCSU Mini Meet