The road to BC's ranking - the highest any Eagle women's athletic team has ever achieved - actually began when the Eagle runners finished a disappointing 28th out of 31 teams in the 1999 championship race at Bloomington, Ind.
Members of the women's cross-country team: Front (L-R), Maggie Guiney '03, Cate Guiney '03, Sharon VanTuyl '02; back (L-R), Katie Ryan '02, Jennifer Kramer '04, Julie Spolidoro '03, Laura Smith '04. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
"From that day, there has been nothing but success," Thomas said.
That success included a Big East Conference championship, the first for the Eagle harriers in 15 years. The Big East title earned the team a slot in the NCAA Northeast Regional Qualifying meet and BC responded with a first-place finish and a trip to the NCAA championship meet, held on the frigid 6000-meter race course at Iowa State University.
One of the keys to the team's impressive showing in the NCAA competition was the performance of twins Megan and Cate Guiney, sophomores from Red Bank, NJ. Megan, who didn't take up the sport until her senior year of high school, finished 13th in the 255-runner field, while Cate finished in 34th place.
"I started running cross-country as a freshman in high school," said Cate. "In our senior year we wanted to try to win the state championship, so I begged Maggie to come out for the team.
"She did and we won."
Thomas said that it was easy to pick out the talented twins as he watched them perform in high school. "They have the same running style," he said. "You could tell just by looking at them that they were going to be good college runners."
Other team members contributing to the BC's point total were Katie Ryan, '02 (24th place), Jennifer Kramer, '04 (97th), Julie Spolidoro, '04 (120th) and Sharon VanTuyl, '02 (128th).
"You need a close team if you really want to do anything in the nationals," said assistant coach Kathy Fleming. "Even though they are individual runners, they have to work and think as a team. The captains have to perpetuate that on a daily basis."
Team captains Ryan and senior Lisa McIsaac set up an e-mail training program for the summer leading up to the season. "The kids used it all summer long," Thomas said. "Even on days when it was 95 degrees and all their friends were heading to the beach, training remained a priority.
"They came back in September ready to run."
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