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#18 Women's Cross Country Takes Aim at CAA Title
Updated: Tuesday 11/01/2013 (ET)
by Jacob Skipper
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The 18th-ranked William and Mary women's cross country team kicks off the championship season Saturday, running at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships.  The conference race is hosted by Towson this year, and will run at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Oregon Ridge State Park in Cockeysville, Md.

Scouting the Tribe
W&M is the heavy favorite to defend its title from a year ago, returning five all-conference performers.  Leading the way is senior All-American Elaina Balouris (Allison Park, Pa.), who is the returning champion and reigning CAA Runner of the Year.  Balouris won each of her first two races this season, and was named CAA Runner of the Week in both cases and National Runner of the Week after her season debut.  Also back is last year's bronze medalist and Rookie of the Year, All-American sophomore Emily Stites (Wyoming, Ohio).  Just like in her freshman campaign, Stites finished a close second to Balouris in the first two races but was named CAA Runner of the Week after finishing eighth overall and best on the team at Pre-Nationals.

Also returning from last year's All-CAA team are seniors Clarissa Schick (Richmond, Va.) and Michelle Britto (Woodbridge, Va.), as well as junior Dylan Hassett (Alpharetta, Ga.).  Sophomore Meghan McGovern (North Wales, Pa.) was on pace for a top-10 finish last year before an untimely fall took her out of the race, but will be looking to make good on that finish this year.  Classmates Erica Amatori (Cary, N.C.), Leanna Eisenman (Front Royal, Va.), and Becca Eudailey (Quinton, Va.) all ran at the championships last year as freshmen, and will be aiming to leap up into the Tribe scoring this year, as will junior Carolyn Hennessey (Herndon, Va.).  Also joining the squad this weekend will be seniors Christina Lee (Yorktown, Va.) and Lauren Strapp (Raleigh, N.C.), both of whom ran at the CAA Championships in 2011.

W&M's 18 total conference championships is the fifth-best mark in NCAA Division I history, behind Eastern Kentucky's 26, BYU's 23, North Carolina State's 21, and Portland's 19.  It is also the second-highest total for any women's team in CAA history, after the 22 championships won by the Tribe tennis team.  The Tribe's best score is 18, put up by the 2003 squad, and that is also the lowest point total for any team in conference history.

Scouting the Opponents
Longtime conference foe George Mason departed the CAA this year, and in their place comes College of Charleston, from the Southern Conference.  The top contenders for the Tribe are expected to be James Madison, who won in 2010 and 2011, as well as Delaware.  Also competing will be the host school, Towson University, as well as Northeastern, Hofstra, and UNCW.

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