In a gutting repeat of last year, the University of Connecticut’s cross country team narrowly missed out on the top spot at this past weekend’s Big East Championship in Carmel, Ind. A dramatic women’s 6K race saw UConn’s Mia Nahom nabbing fourth, improving on her ninth place finish at last season’s conference race, while a late kick from Georgetown’s Maggie Donahue was what it took to take down 2019 champion Lydia Olivere from Butler for the win.
Nahom crossed the line in 21:00.0, outlasting Villanova’s Sadie Sigsftead, who rounded out the top five and was awarded an identical time. Freshman standout Chloe Thomas registered a career-best time of 21:06.9 to finish seventh, while Melissa Zammitti placed at 15th in 21:26.6. The trio earned All-Big East honors, as UConn was edged out for third in the team standings, missing out on the conference title for a second consecutive year — this time by a meager five points.
“It was a really close race the whole way, and going into that last K, we were essentially in fifth. I thought we looked great down that stretch, everyone closed as hard as they could. We knew every point would count. Mia [Nahom] held really strong and it was great to see Chloe [Thomas] grab a top-10 spot,” coach Lindsay Crevoiserat said.
Earning all-conference honors for the fifth time in her UConn career, Nahom looks eager to apply her strategy from this race to the NCAA Regionals in the coming weeks.
“I think this race helped us to put ourselves in the mix a bit more up front, and definitely prepares us for tough conditions again. The conditions were really muddy, so we tried to get out well and hang tough. I find it harder to move up when it’s muddy, so I really tried to get out from the beginning where I wanted to finish,” she said.
Meanwhile, Thomas, earning all-conference accolades at her maiden conference championship, attributed her performance to the collective team effort and her coaches.
“The team made the race easy for me, it’s a great feeling knowing that you’ve got nine other women in a race who not only have your back, but who also want what you want,” she said. “Coach Lindsay and coach Pat prepared us well, we had a great showing. It was a tight race between the top three teams, but nobody wanted that conference title more than us.”
Defending champions Georgetown retained the team title with 65 points. Butler finished in second, amassing 67 points, with UConn taking third thanks to 70 points. The Villanova Wildcats were fourth with 80 points, while Big East season leaders Providence closed out the top five with 82 points. Despite missing out on the top honor, coach Lindsay Crevoiserat remains satisfied with the results. “Losing by two points last year, we really wanted this. This is one of the top fields in the country, so this is a great result,” she said.
UConn’s top five was completed by senior Celia Chacko, who clocked 21:45.0 and finished at No. 21, and sophomore Jenna Zydanowicz, who registered a career best, 21:59.3 and placed at No. 23. Senior Randi Burr was next across the line for UConn at No. 25 in 22:09.0, while sophomore Jenna Zydanowicz rounded out UConn’s line up to finish at No. 31 in 22:19.1.
The Huskies return to action at the NCAA Regionals on Nov. 12 when UMass Lowell hosts at the Franklin Park Course in Massachusetts.