Women's Cross Country 2016 Season Preview

Sept. 8, 2016

Roster | Schedule

MILWAUKEE – The Marquette University women’s cross country team prepares for the 2016 season opener on Saturday with the talent and experience that could transcend into a special year as 10th-year head coach Mike Nelson has indicated.

“I think we can be one of the best women’s teams Marquette has ever fielded,” Nelson said. “We have a very rich tradition of women’s cross country, making it to nationals from 2000 to 2005. To say that this team can be in the same conversation as some of those teams, I think that’s realistic. Especially, when you have three of the top-four all-time in the 5K on the team at the same time and they’re all seniors.”

One of those seniors is Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, native Brittney Feivor, who currently holds the Marquette 5K record of 16:32.93 and is coming off a superb 2015 cross country campaign. She led the Golden Eagles in every race, while becoming the first All-BIG EAST performer since 2007, and doing so in a school-record time.

Redshirt senior and co-captain Clare McDonald set the fourth-fastest 5K time (16:46.43) during the 2016 outdoor track season and is looking to improve in her final cross country season after consistently placing among the team’s top-four a season ago. Fellow redshirt senior Kellie Greenwood, whose 5K time (16:34.07) is virtually even with Feivor’s, returns after missing last season due to injury. In 2014, Greenwood led MU in every race.



“It really gives us another ‘low stick,’” was the terminology Nelson used to describe Greenwood as one of the team’s top runners who will score well. “Not only is she one of our better runners, but she has a lot of experience. She’s run most of, if not all, the courses we’re going to.

“She’s the only person on the team that has run at the site of the BIG EAST Championships [Van Cortlandt Park at St. John’s],” Nelson added. “We’re going to be reliant on Kellie for not only being one of our top runners, but she’s a leader with experience and a mentor for the younger ones and that’s definitely going to help the team.”

Not to be outdone is junior Jennifer Parker, who was the team’s No. 2 runner in each race last season. The Neenah, Wisconsin, native was just two places shy from a top-20 finish and All-BIG EAST recognition at the league championships in 2015.

Not only are the Golden Eagles well-equipped to score big at the top of their lineup, but they have a host of skilled runners that will provide considerable depth throughout the season.

Abigail Busse and Meghan Carroll expect to make big contributions this season. Busse was a consistent finisher in the middle of the MU lineup a season ago. The Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, native ranged between fourth and sixth on the squad and is coming off a strong outdoor track season in which she set the eighth-fastest steeplechase time in Marquette history.

Carroll is coming of an injury-plagued year that forced her to miss the entire 2015 cross country season, but as a freshman in 2014, she was one of the squad’s top runners and even set the 1,000-meter freshman record during her first indoor season with the Golden Eagles.

Senior co-captain Alison Parker and junior Jessica Parker, who rejoin sister Jennifer, are looking to rebound following an injury-plagued 2015 season. Both were consistent finishers in the top-five throughout 2014.

Sophomore Nora Keller turned in an outstanding freshman season that saw her finish in the team’s top-five in four out of seven races. One of Marquette’s top newcomers this season is sophomore Mary Hanson. The Dodgeville, Wisconsin, native was a second team All-State selection in 2014.

“Our depth is our strength of runners and we have several that will fight (for one of the top-seven spots),” Nelson said. “We have the type of group that knows how to compete against each other, but in a way that helps the team. They’re going to compete as hard as they can and I think they understand how to push each other whether it’s practice or in competition.”

The Golden Eagles begin the season Saturday, Sept. 10, at UW-Parkside’s Dannehl National Cross Country Course in Kenosha, a course that is similar to the one we’ll see at the BIG EAST Championships, which is hosted by St. John’s at Van Cortlandt Park on Oct. 28. Dannehl National XC Course will also be home to the 2017 BIG EAST Championships as Marquette is due to host for the first time since 2013.

“Everything is a build-up to running well at the BIG EAST Championships and the NCAA Regional,” Nelson said. “The Parkside course, in a lot of ways, is actually the closest representation to Van Cortlandt Park as you can get. In terms of the crushed gravel surface and the hilly terrain, it will serve as good preparation for what we will see at the BIG EAST meet.”

Marquette competes at the annual National Catholic Invitational (Sept. 16) at Notre Dame before heading south to the Greater Louisville Classic (Oct. 1) – returning for the first time since 2013.

A week prior to the BIG EAST Championships, Nelson’s squad heads to the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet (Oct. 15) in Terre Haute, Indiana, for what hopes to be a preview of what they might see should they qualify for Nationals at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional (Nov. 11). 

“Each girl has her own individual goals, but at the end of the day, they understand the value of team and they want to be one of the best, if not the best, that Marquette has ever fielded,” Nelson said. “It’s a quiet confidence. They don’t go around talking about it because they’ve been there before and run at a high level. They know what it takes and they know if they put in the hard work into it and take it one meet at a time that good things will happen.”


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