Sneak Peak -- 2017 Tommie Women's Cross Country
Head Coach: Joe Sweeney, starting 38th season
2016 Finish: First place of 12 at MIACs, 20th place at NCAA nationals
2017 MIAC Preseason Poll: TBD
2017 Division III Preseason Poll: 17th
Returning Runners: 26
Newcomers: Eight freshmen joined the program
Top Returners: Seniors Jenny (Walz 37th regions, 12th MIAC last season), Ali Glassbrenner (53rd regions, 29th MIAC), Melissa Marsh (41st regions, 31st MIAC) and Megan Gossfeld (30th MIAC); plus sophomores Sara Ness (62nd regions, 20th MIAC) , Grace Loeslie (25th MIAC) and Katie Brueckman (34th MIAC).
First Competition: Sat. Sept. 9 at Luther Invitational
Key Fall Stretch: MIAC Meet, Oct. 28 at St. Olaf; NCAA Regional Nov. 4 at Carleton
Big Tests: The Tommies' top team will run in September at the University of Minnesota Griak Invitational, and in October at the Pre-Nationals meet near St. Louis.
Maturity: Sweeney has 10 seniors and 10 juniors on hand to lead in 2017.
Stats Watch: Last outdoor track and field season, Glassbrenner ran 2:15 for 800 and 4:41 for 1,500; Walz ran 2:16 for 800 and 18:16 for 5,000; and Ness ran 11:22 in the steeplechase.
More Returners: St. Thomas graduated three All-Region runners in Alex Fossum, Bridget McGivern and Kayla Janto but return nine other top-50 finishers from last October's MIAC Championships.
New Face: Erik Jolivette joins the St. Thomas coaching staff in 2017 for women's cross country and track and field. Jolivette brings a strong blend of experience in coaching and in Division III distance running. The Garner, Iowa, native comes to UST after two seasons as a volunteer distance coach for the Division I Wisconsin Badgers men's and women's teams. He previously gained experience as a volunteer coach in summer duties both at Harvard University and the University of Iowa. At Wisconsin, he helped mentor an All-America as well as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Did You Know? Tommie Women's Cross Country's eight athletes who traveled to the national meet had a combined grade-point average of 3.73, including a 3.87 average for the top five runners who led a 20th-place Division III finish.
No Ordinary Joe: Joe Sweeney has guided Tommie cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field to 80 conference team championships in his 37-year era -- the most by any coach in Division III women's sports. His St. Thomas teams have won five national championships with five other NCAA runner-up placings.