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Cornell Looks to Defend Heptagonal Women's Cross Country Championship Title on Saturday

Cornell's Katie Kellner
Cornell's Katie Kellner

Championship Central

Photo courtesy of Cornell Athletic Communications

PRINCETON, N.J. -- For the second-straight year, the Ivy League Heptagonal Cross Country Championships will be held at Princeton's West Windsor Fields. After dealing with rain and snow in 2011, the Ancient Eight are hoping that running will be the only element of the race they will have to concern themselves with.

The women's race will begin at 11:00 a.m., followed by the men's race at noon. The awards ceremony will take place at 1:00 p.m.

For the first time in Ivy League history, the event will not be held at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx in consecutive years. The 2011 race marked just the third time the event had only been away from Van Cortlandt on the men's side (1947 and 1979) and the first for the women since 1981. The 2012 competition will have the teams running the same distances as in 2011, with the men going 8K and the women 6K.

Last season, Cornell won its fourth overall title and its first since 1993. The Big Red hopes to take its second-straight championship for the first time since that 1993 title team. Columbia, which finished two points behind Cornell in 2011, is looking for its first championship since 2005, while Princeton hopes to regain the form that gave it five-straight titles from 2006-10.

Twelve of the 14 All-Ivy performers from a year ago return for the women, including six of the top seven runners. The 2011 individual champion, Dartmouth's Abbey D'Agostino, hopes to win her second-consecutive title, but she will have to hold off Columbia's Waverly Neer, who placed second in 2011, as well as Cornell's Katie Kellner (4th) and Genna Hartung (5th).

Team-by-team breakdowns:

Ranked No. 8 in the USTFCCCA Northeast Regional poll … junior Heidi Caldwell led the team with a 57th-place finish out of 327 athletes in the 6K Wisconsin adidas Invitational … in the 6K Paul Short Invitational, the Bears placed eighth overall as senior Olivia Mickle (11th), junior Margaret Connelly (17th) and Caldwell (20th) placed among the top-20 out of 360 runners.

Ranked No. 10 in the USTFCCCA Northeast Regional poll … spent time this season in the receiving votes category of the National poll … sophomore Waverly Neer and senior Erin Gillingham posted top-five finishes in both the 5K Vermont Invitational and the 4K Toledo InterRegional Bubble Buster … competing without Neer in its only 6K race this season, Columbia placed 36th out of 48 in the Wisconsin adidas Invitational.

The defending champion Big Red has steadily climbed the polls this season, starting out at No. 30 in the USTFCCCA Preseason poll and coming in at No. 7 currently, a program-best … Cornell is also No. 1 in the Northeast Regional poll … senior Katie Kellner has led the Big Red in three races this season, including second-place at the 6K Yellowjacket Invitational and 6K Paul Short Invitational, races in which Cornell placed first overall … junior Rachel Sorna won the title at the Yellowjack Invitational … the team took fifth in the 6K Wisconsin adidas Invitational as Kellner placed 15th.

Ranked No. 9 in the Northeast Regional Poll … junior Abbey D'Agostino has won individual titles by 35 seconds (Dartmouth Invitational) and 24 seconds (Paul Short Invitational), as the team placed second and fifth, respectively … Dartmouth placed third in the NEICAAA New England Cross Country Championships, despite the absence of D'Agostino, who also did not run in the Wisconsin adidas Invitational … sophomore Samantha Harmon placed 16th at the New England Championships.

Ranked No. 7 in the USTFCCCA Northeast Regional poll … a different runner has led the Crimson in each race this season … senior Briana Jackucewicz won the individual title at the 5K Nassaney Invitational, while sophomore Morgan Kelly placed 26th out of 360 runners in the 6K Paul Short Invitational … senior Samantha Silva took second at the annual HY 5K race, less than a second behind the champion.

Ranked No. 8 in the USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Regional poll … senior Leslie Kovach has led the team during all four races … Kovach placed second in a 4K race against LaSalle, fourth at the 6K Iona Meet of Champions, 56th in the 6K Paul Short Invitational and earned her first career victory in the Leopard Invitational, just ahead of freshman Hannah Grossman, who placed second … the Quakers placed second at the Meet of Champions and won the Leopard Invitational.

Ranked No. 4 in the USTFCCCCA Mid-Atlantic poll … spent time in the receiving votes category of the National poll this season … sophomore Emily de La Bruyere placed fifth and senior Mel Newberry finished ninth the Tigers took second in Penn State's 6K Spiked Shoe Invitational … senior Greta Feldman has led the team twice this season, including 17th at the 5K Notre Dame Invitational and 68th in the 6K Wisconsin adidas Invitational … the Tigers placed eighth at Notre Dame.

Ranked No. 22 in the USTFCCCA National poll, tied with Villanova … comes in at No. 3 in the Northeast Regional poll … the Bulldogs won both the 5K Fordham Fiasco and the annual HY meet … junior Millie Chapman won the title at Fordham and led the team with a 49th-place finish at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, a race in which the Bulldogs came in 13th … junior Liana Epstein placed first in the HY meet and senior Nihal Kayali took 14th to lead the team to a fourth-place finish at the 6K Paul Short Invitational.