Nov. 23, 2009
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- With all five Villanova scorers crossing the finish line earning All-American status, the Villanova women's cross country squad dominated the NCAA Championships and claimed the 2009 NCAA title at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course. The Wildcats cruised to victory earning 86 team points, while Florida State, who was the runner-up, posted 133 points.
Washington, who had entered the race ranked first nationally, finished third with 188 team points.
This is the eighth title for Villanova cross country and the school's 17th championship overall. It is the first title for head coach Gina Procaccio, who was an assistant coach in 1998, when the cross country team last won a team title.
"The girls ran phenomenal," Procaccio said. "It has been an amazing season and all seven ran so well today. We continued to execute every race and stayed in the front pack the whole time."
The Wildcats continued to dominate right out of the starting line as they had all season, with all top-five runners staying in the lead pack throughout the course. Junior Amanda Marino crossed the finish line of the 6K first for the squad in sixth place clocking in at 20:02.4.
Classmate Sheila Reid started the race strong and was the lead Villanova runner until a cramp slowed her at the 4K mark. Reid showed true leadership as she powered through the rest of the race and finished in 20:16.3 for 13th place as the second Villanova scorer.
Senior Nicole Schappert was the fifth scorer for the Wildcats and finished 26th in 20:38.1.
Marino, Reid, Mimic, Smith and Schappert each earned All-American honors.
With Marino and Reid finishing ahead of Florida State's second runner and all five of the Villanova scorers finishing ahead of the Seminoles' third through fifth runners, the `Cats realized as soon as the race was over that they had won the championship.
"I knew we had a lead out there around the 3K mark and let the girls know that we were in front, but I didn't truly realize that we had won until the end as I counted our first five runners cross the finish line before the third, fourth and fifth runners of Florida State," Procaccio said.
The championship closes out a stellar 2009 season in which the Wildcats won every race that had team scoring. Villanova began the season ranked No. 5, but quickly climbed to No. 2 after winning the Bill Dellinger Invitational in October. From there the Wildcats spent the remainder of the season ranked second, but had gained two first place votes in the pre-nationals poll.
Angela Bizzarri from Illinois earned the individual title finishing the course in 19:46.8. The runner-up was Washington's Kendra Schaaf (19:51.6), while Susan Kuijken of Florida State came in third and finished in 19:57.7