CONCORD, N.C. - Sophomore Jill Prentice became Richmond's first-ever top female conference finisher as she led the Spider women to a fourth-place finish at the A-10 Women's Cross Country Championship on Saturday at Frank Liske Park outside of Charlotte. On the men's side, the Spiders took seventh on the heels of a top-25 showing from freshman Andrew Valenski.
After the Spiders swept the conference titles a year ago, La Salle accomplished the feat this year. It was the first A-10 title for both Explorer squads since 2007. Duquesne and Saint Joseph's took second and third, respectively, on the men's side with Dayton and Charlotte following suit on the women's side.
"I'm very proud of the women's team today," said Director
of Cross Country and Track & Field Lori Taylor. "They challenged
themselves to complete
their best individual efforts for each other and have their best team
race so far this season. The best 1-5 finish of 1:25 seconds gave
this young team a hard earned fourth-place finish. It was an
effort by Jill Prentice, who strategically
outraced a senior front pack with confidence, grit and heart to show her
tenacious competitive attitude. The steady momentum, work ethic and team building both on
and off the course have put this team in a great position
to have their best team race of the season at the upcoming Southeast Regional."
Prentice (Skillman, N.J./Montgomery), who was just one of two underclassmen in the top 10, remained with the front of the pack the entire way before making her move down the final stretch of the 5k to claim the top spot and earn Most Outstanding Performer honors. Her time of 17:13.7 was the second-fastest in championship history and eight seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Hilary Orf of Saint Louis.
Junior Stephanie Paradis (Leesburg, Va./Stone Bridge) also garnered all-conference honors, posting a time of 17:55.1 to take 13th overall. Freshman Clare Moretz (Madison, Va./Madison) came in just behind to tally a top-20 finish, clocking a 18:10.0 to finish 19th and less than a second behind the meet's Most Outstanding Rookie in Duquesne's Danica Snyder.
Rounding out the Richmond top five were sophomore Roxanne Henningson (Saratoga Springs, N.Y./Greenwich) with a 28th-place time of 18:23.7 and senior Andi DeFonce (West Harrison, N.Y./Harrison), who canvassed the course in a time of 18:39.3 to take 38th.
The first of three freshmen in the Spiders' top four, Valenski (Massapequa, N.Y./Massapequa) turned in a time of 25:21.2 in the men's 8k race to pace the Spiders with a 25th-place showing. His time represented the second-fastest mark among freshmen at the meet.
Junior Chris York (White Post, Va./Clarke County) crossed the line just behind with a time of 25:28.7 to take 31st. Freshman Billy Fayette (Clarendon Hills, Ill./Hinsdale) finished in 38th with a time of 25:42.9, while classmate Matthew Groff (Landisville, Pa./Hempfield) was six spots behind with a time of 25:46.5.
The Spiders' scoring was rounded out by junior Jason Skipper (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Mendon), who clocked a 25:51.5 to finish 47th.
"We knew this would be a competitive race and that teams within the league would be ready," said men's head coach Steve Taylor. "We felt going in that we were improving, and based on our training our men were ready for their best effort of the year. Our 1-5 split was 30 seconds, which is by far our best of the season. We simply needed to be 15 seconds faster per man. With that being said, it's also the first time we've had our top five under 26 flat for the 5-mile distance this year."
"Again, even though we did not achieve our goal today we still have many bright spots and I'm convinced that we are getting closer to the breakthrough we expect," added Taylor. "Our men return our entire team and we had three freshmen in our top four today. That's a good sign for the future."
Both Spider squads will now set their sites on the Southeast Regional in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday, Nov. 12. The Regional meet is the Spider runners' one opportunity to qualify for Nationals on Monday, Nov. 21.
Stay updated on the Southeast Regional and all the latest Spider cross country news and notes right here on RichmondSpiders.com. More in-depth coverage can also be found on Coach Taylor's blog or by following him on Twitter.
25. Andrew Valenski, 25:21.2
31. Chris York, 25:28.7
38. Billy Fayette, 25:42.9
41. Matthew Groff, 25:46.5
47. Jason Skipper, 25:51.5
65. Conor Phelan, 26:21.8
72. Adam Owens, 26:28.7
99. Kyle Ragan, 27:20.7
105. Patrick Love, 27:39.0
1. Jill Prentice, 17:13.7
13. Stephanie Paradis, 17:55.1
19. Clare Moretz, 18:10.0
28. Roxanne Henningson, 18:23.7
38. Andi DeFonce, 18:39.3
66. Amanda Lineberry, 19:08.1
71. Lydia Morton, 19:11.0
72. Alli Mannon, 19:11.1
76. Beth Kelly, 19:16.4
88. Liz Schinski, 19:35.4
Jill Prentice took the A-10 title with a time of 17:13.7 and was named the meet's Most Outstanding Performer.
- Prentice is the first Spider female to claim the Atlantic 10 Conference individual title.
- Prentice's time of 17:13.7 is the second-fastest championship time in league history.
- Stephanie Paradis also earned all-conference honors with her time of 17:55.1.
- Clare Moretz (18:10.0) was the second freshman to finish Saturday's race, narrowly missing Newcomer of the
Year honors to Duquesne's Danica Snyder (18:09.6) by four-tenths of a
- The Spiders held a 1:25 1-5 team split (17:13.7 to 18:39.3), which represents their best of the season.
- Richmond returns all but two of its top 10 runners next year.