Friday, October 29, 2010

Preview Atlantic 10 Conference Championships

Video Preview of the Men's and Women's Atlantic 10 Conference Championships...

VIDEO: The Richmond men's XC team competes for the A-10 Championship on Saturday

VIDEO: The Richmond women's XC team looks for its 3rd A-10 title Saturday

Spider XC Hopes To Bring A-10 Title Back To Richmond

Richmond cross country heads to Pittsburgh, Pa. for Atlantic 10 Conference Championships.

by KC Krismiller

October 28, 2010

- The Richmond men's and women's cross country teams depart for Pittsburgh, Pa. on Friday to attend the Atlantic 10 Conference Cross Country Championships. The event kicks-off Saturday, Oct. 30 at 9:00 a.m. with the women's 5K, followed by the men's 8K race at 9:45 a.m.

"It's going to be a great meet," said women's head coach Lori Taylor. "Our teams are looking forward to the Championships, and know it's going to take a total team effort to bring the title back to Richmond."

The race, hosted by Duquesne University, will be held at Schenley Park, a 456-acre municipal park located in the city of Pittsburgh. This will be the Atlantic 10's 22nd annual race for the women's championship and the 33rd race for the men's championship. Richmond has participated in the event every year since joining the Atlantic 10 Conference in 2001.

"This year, unlike last year, we are healthy and that's a huge difference," said Taylor. "We have four NCAA Track & Field Championship qualifiers, an excellent group returning upper classmen, and a strong pack of freshmen leading us into the meet."

Redshirt-senior Amy Van Alstine and senior Nicol Traynor will lead the Spider women in hopes to capture their second championship victory in three years. The women's first championship win came in 2003, while the second (and last) one happened in 2008.

Amy Van Alstine is coming off a remarkable season, finishing first for the Spider women in both the ISU Pre-Nationals meet and the Paul Short Invitational. Nicol Traynor led the women in the 2009 A-10 Championships, finishing seventh overall with a time of 20:06.3. Similar to Van Alstine, Traynor has had an impressive season, finishing second for Richmond in both the ISU Pre-Nationals and the Paul Short Invitational. She was also awarded the Atlantic 10 Women's Performer of the Week on Sept. 20 following her second-place overall finish at the Wolfpack Invitational.

Unlike the women, the Spider men have never captured first-place at the Atlantic 10 Championship. However, Richmond has a very good chance in 2010 due to the senior leadership of Matt Llano, Andrew Benford and Tim Quinn.

Redshirt-senior Matt Llano currently holds the fourth-best time for the A-10 Men's Championship Performances when he finished fourth in 2008 (24:05.2). He is coming off a noteworthy 2010 season, recently awarded the A-10 Men's Performer of the Week on Oct. 19 in response to his 21st-place finish at the ISU Pre-Nationals. He was the top A-10 performer of the meet with a time of 24:04.9. Llano also finished second for the Spiders (sixth overall) at the Paul Short Invitational on Oct. 2.

Fellow redshirt-senior, Andrew Benford, came close to clinching a top-10 spot at the ISU Pre-National meet, but fell 20 yards from the finish line. He ended up placing 66th overall with a time of 24:37.5. Besides the fall, Benford has shown much promise this season. He lead the Spider men at the Paul Short Invitational with a third-place overall finish (23:52) and was the first Atlantic 10 Conference runner to cross the finish line. Following his performance at Paul Short, the A-10 awarded him the honor of Men's Co-Performer of the Week.

Senior Tim Quinn has past success at the A-10 Championships. In 2009 he led the Spider men with a 12th-place overall finish and a time of 27:10.4. Quinn also finished second for the Spiders behind Llano at Pre-Nationals, where he placed 48th overall (24:26.0).

"Our teams have trained hard and are healthy," said men's head coach Steve Taylor. "They are focused on their team and individual goals. We acknowledge there are teams within the conference that have a lot of talent and those teams have the same goal we do."

All Atlantic 10 Conference teams will be participating in the meet, including Duquesne, Dayton, St. Joseph's, Rhode Island, Fordham, UMass, LaSalle, Saint Louis, Charlotte, George Washington, Xavier, Temple, and St. Bonaventure.

"Our athletes have shown through the level of the workouts they are doing that they have elevated to a new level. Now they need to transfer those workouts into a complete team effort, which we have not done yet this season. They must use their energy together on Saturday morning with the passion it takes to become Atlantic 10 Conference Champions."

The women's 5K kicks-off at 9:00 a.m. and the men's 8K race starts at 9:45 a.m. For more information about the Atlantic 10 Conference Cross Country Championship, click this link.

Stay tuned to for a complete report following Saturday's meet. For more in-depth coverage on the race, visit Coach Taylor's blog or follow him on Twitter.

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