DI Northeast Region Preview
The 2015 Northeast Region Championships will take place Friday afternoon at Franklin Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The women’s 6K race is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. ET with the men’s 10K race happening an hour later.
Since 2007, Providence and Syracuse have dominated the Northeast Region. Seven of the past eight team titles have been won by the Friars (2007, 2008, 2012, 2013) or Orange (2009, 2010, 2011), with the lone exception coming last year when a wild Iona appeared and beat both of them.
Expect this year to return to the status quo and it to be a coronation for the Friars, who are ranked fourth in the latest National Coaches’ Poll.
Little has slowed down No. 4 Providence this season. Outside of a subpar performance at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational where they placed fifth, the Friars dominated each meet in which they ran – an 85-point win at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown as well as a 26-point effort at the BIG EAST Championships.
Outside of a runner-up finish at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown, No. 19 Syracuse has struggled with consistency. The Orange finished 11th at the adidas Invitational and then looked less than stellar at the ACC Championships, where it placed fourth and only had one runner inside the top-20.
No. 29 Yale has come on strong late in the season. The Bulldogs were 14th at the Pre-National Invitational and then finished a surprising runner-up to Princeton at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships.
Boston College and Columbia both received votes in the most recent poll and should contend with Yale for third place – or even second if Syracuse falters.
The course at Franklin Park is familiar to those runners aiming to win an individual title come Friday.
In fact, many of them ran that same tract earlier this season at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown. Granted, that course was 5K – but an extra 1K shouldn’t change too much.
Stony Brook’s Christina Melian outkicked Syracuse’s Margo Malone in that race, while Providence’s Catarina Rocha and Sarah Collins were third and fourth. Expect that same quartet to fight for the win again and don’t be surprised if it’s Collins that crosses the finish line first. Collins has come on strong as of late, racing to a 15-second win at the BIG EAST Championships two weeks ago.
Dartmouth’s Dana Giordano and Harvard’s Courtney Smith shouldn’t be overlooked either and will likely be in the lead pack.
Perhaps more than any other region in the country, the top two teams in the Northeast – No. 2 Syracuse and No. 9 Iona – seem to have separated themselves from the rest of the pack in their region.
In other words, don’t expect an all-out race between these two. They’re saving it for the NCAA Championships.
Then again, don’t necessarily expect both of these teams to advance automatically. Last year, Syracuse made it through with a win (without running Justyn Knight) but only narrowly beat a hard-charging Providence team running for its qualifying life, 45-48. Iona entered as the second-highest ranked team in the region, and ultimately finished third to earn an at-large bid.
At NCAAs, Syracuse was fifth, Iona was eighth and Providence was 13th.
Cuse has been strong all year long – albeit with some minor issues at the back of its scoring lineup – with wins at the ACC, Boston College and Wisconsin behind the trio of Knight, Martin Hehir and Colin Bennie.
Iona, led by Chartt Miller, impressed with an early win at Louisville then finished fifth at Wisconsin.
The most likely candidate to jump into the mix is No. 16 Columbia, which finished 10th in that same Wisconsin race and just recently won a tight Ivy League battle.
No. 29 Providence isn’t the same Friar squad that finished runner-up here a year ago but turned in a third-place finish at the Big EAST after finishing 15th at Wisconsin.
The vote-receiving Ivy duo of Cornell and Yale will also look to jump up in the standings and challenge for NCAA berths. Both teams scored 75 points at the Ivy League Championships to finish just 10 points behind Columbia.
Syracuse’s trio of Knight, Bennie and Hehir headline the field individually, but there exists the possibility that none of them will run for the individual win. Last year Cuse’s top four all crossed the line within two seconds of one another in a pack from sixth through ninth.
Iona’s pack of Miller, Gilbert Kirui, Kieran Clements and Mike O’Dowd will likely follow Syracuse’s example.
The top returner from a year ago is All-American Kevin Dooney, who will be running up front positioning himself for individual qualification in the event his Yale squad doesn’t make the cut. He was the Ivy runner-up this year.
Just behind him at Ivys were Columbia’s Aubrey Myjer and Cornell’s Ben Rainero.
Julian Oakley will lead the Providence squad. He was ninth in a fast Big EAST Championship race.
Unfortunately, America East runner-up/Pre-National Black Race winner Bobby Allen’s UMass Lowell program is still undergoing its transition to NCAA DI and is still ineligible for postseason competition.