NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University women’s cross country squad is eyeing a third consecutive Great Northeast Athletic Conference title in 2018. The Cadets have also won three of the last four GNAC crowns and both squads have swept the last two GNAC championship races.
Norwich will have to find success under a new leader in 2018 as Seth Jackson takes over the reins of the men’s and women’s programs with the departure of former head coach Nick Cooper. The Cadets will also have to replace 2017 GNAC Runner of the Year and three-time All-Conference honoree Haddie Lary, who graduated in May.
The Cadets return eight from last season, including junior Robyn Hageman (Westlake, Ohio), who placed sixth overall at GNAC’s en route to her second All-Conference honor. Senior Carisa DeKalb (San Diego, Calif.) returns after a 16th overall finish at the GNAC Championships, while sophomore Shannon Flaherty (North Yarmouth, Maine) placed 19th at the event.
“Upperclassman Robyn Hageman and Carisa DeKalb will be integral to our success at the end of this fall. Both put in good work this summer and should see marked improvement,” Jackson said.
Jackson has retained the services of assistant coach Mike Cooper, who returns for his third season with the team. “Coach Cooper will play a huge role in our success this season. Mike has a great rapport with our team, and has invaluable knowledge as a physical therapist and former college runner that make him a critical part of our coaching staff.”
Norwich was also picked to repeat in the GNAC Coaches’ Poll, garnering seven of 12 first-place votes and 135 total points.
Jackson spoke of the team’s outlook after the completion of preseason training, “While Mike (Cooper) and I serve as mentors and motivators, this team’s success is ultimately up to our runners,” Jackson said. “Whatever commitment they bring will play out in races. I believe we have GNAC championship ability on the team, as well as those who could compete highly in the region and nation.”
Expectations will be certainly be high for the team and Coach Jackson is well aware of them, “I think the team really believes we will always race well at GNACs,” Jackson said. “Coach Mike (Cooper) and I are committed to a progression throughout the season that has everyone running their best for championship races. We’re going to make sure the physical and mental preparation is geared towards winning the conference meet for Norwich.”
When asked about other goals for the season Jackson stated, “Progression is always the goal,” he said. “The women have a very tough challenge ahead to win the conference meet, which is definitely high up on our priority list.”
The Cadets welcome two newcomers for the 2018 season and Jackson has already noted the potential for the class, “Freshman Belle Magna (Canton, Conn.) has been towards the front of our training groups and could contend for top freshman in the conference.”