Nov. 4, 1999
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. --Head coach Randy Thomas is excited and full of anticipation for the indoor and outdoor track seasons. He knows the potential his women's track team possesses. He knows how good his women's track team could be this year. Armed with an experienced and successful group of veterans and loaded with potential impact freshmen, Thomas, admitting it up front, is expecting a lot from his team this year. Thomas noted, "This is a well-balanced team and it is a young team. But this is a young, well-balanced team that will do great things this year."
In years past, Thomas has always had quality and depth in the middle and long distances and several strong performers who made up the rest of the team. However, this year changes that pattern. The 1999-2000 edition of this team is stocked in every event with student-athletes Thomas feels will take BC track to the next level. "Every woman on this team can compete at the BIG EAST level. But the special aspect of this team is that there are so many athletes who will compete at the regional and national levels, too."
Led by the experience of junior co-captains Shannon Smith and Lisa McIsaac, the middle and long distance team should make people take notice once again. "Shannon and Lisa will provide the backbone for the team. Their performances will speak for themselves, but their leadership is an invaluable asset that cannot go unnoticed," says Thomas.
Last winter, Smith was the New England Champion in the 3000M and is a former NCAA qualifier in the same event. She has international experience-uncommon for athletes at the college level, running in the World Cross Country Championships in her freshman campaign. McIsaac was All-ECAC and runner-up at New England's in the mile last year. Both will provide proven success to the Eagles' roster. Add senior Kyla Barbour, who will add depth in the 5K and 10K races, and the distance team is strong already. However, these three athletes only scrape the top of the talent pool for the Boston College Eagles this year.
Thomas' desire to build the team around the 4x400M, 4x800M and distance medley relay team (the strengths of the BIG EAST Conference) has proved to garner positive results. He has coached several All-Americans in the longer distances, including nine-time All-American Angie Graham and an All-American DMR team. "When we as a staff sit down and look at potential recruits, we see if they can possibly fill a spot on those relay teams. You fill a lot of your team that way and position yourself best for a competitive BIG EAST Conference."
For the second consecutive year, Thomas has brought in a freshman class that has not only quality and depth, but also the ability to step in and make an impact on both the conference and regional level immediately. To highlight his confidence with the incoming class, Thomas believes he can field a distance medley team that will qualify for the NCAA meet comprised solely of freshmen.
Newcomer Rachel D'Amora was the Connecticut State Champion in the 400M, running under 55 seconds. Jennifer Vendetti ran a 54.8 in the 400M and holds the second fastest time in schoolgirl history in Massachusetts. She was also second in the 800M at the 1998 Outdoor National Scholastic Championships. Twin sisters Cate and Maggie Guiney are highly touted recruits from New Jersey who proved their worth by lighting up the competition during the cross country season. Both runners will look to parlay their success on the outdoor courses onto the track, especially in the longer 5K and 10K races. Four of these five women will comprise the all-freshman team Thomas hopes to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the DMR.
Sophomores Sharon Van Tuyl, Celeste Sedo, Katie Ryan and Nicole Portly- the components of Thomas' great recruiting class of 1998-99- will also make strong contributions to the team in the longer distances after returning from strong cross country seasons. The group brings a great deal of versatility to the team, as they are able to conquer distances ranging from the 1200M to the 10K.
In the sprints and hurdles, sophomore Zoey O'Sullivan and senior Marcia Furr will lead the young team. O'Sullivan, a former Maine state champion, is the team's anchor in the shorter distances running the 55M through the 200M. Freshman Nikki Pouge will also be counted on to add depth to the squad and form a formidable one-two punch in the short sprints. Senior Meghan Sullivan returns for her final year of competition to add experience and proven success to the team.
Furr leads the longer sprints, running the 200M through the 400M. She hopes to return to the form that earned her Massachusetts state class honors in high school. Junior Lauren Claudia will return to compete in the sprints in the indoor season. D'Amora and Vendetti will also add depth strength to the longer distances. Expect freshmen Melissa Connell, Kim Burrows and Joi Branch to add depth to this area.
The hurdles will see new depth this year. Returning are Kate Sullivan, a junior, and Claudia who both competed last year. Several freshmen are expected to add hurdling to their repertoire, giving the team extra strength.
Thomas has several incoming, multi-talented athletes who will benefit the team in more events than just the running events. In the field events, the coach believes he has filled the holes left by the graduation of several key performers with some talented freshmen. Christina Regan was the fourth-place finisher in the pentathlon at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships and was the Massachusetts state champion in both the 300M hurdles and triple jump. She will continue to compete in these events in college, as well as adding the pentathlon and decathlon at major meets. Meghan Kearney will try to fill the void left by the graduation of school record holder Libby MacDonald. Kearney was the Connecticut state champion in the discus and will add hammer and 20lb. weight to her arsenal at the Heights. Tierney Oslin will also add depth in the throws with experience in both shot put and discus.
Kristyn O'Brien, a junior, will return to the pole vault pit this year. She is looking to increase her school record jump of 9'6". After missing most of the indoor season with a broken foot, O'Brien is ready to take aim at the top vaulters in the country. Claudia will also try vaulting this year.
For the first time in several years, Thomas has a well-balanced, eager track team anxious to compete week in and week out. By recruiting to the strength of the BIG EAST Conference (one of the premiere track and field conferences in the country), he has put together a team that will be ready to not only take on all who come at it, but is poised to take aim on the top programs in the nation. The women want to be part of the excitement come March and June at the NCAA Championships and this could be the team to get them there.