Graham Leads DePaul at BIG EAST Championships
Oct. 29, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In Saturday's BIG EAST Cross Country Championship races held at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, it was again DePaul senior Matthew Graham who led the way for the Blue Demons. Graham placed fourth in the men's race, earning him a spot on the All-BIG EAST team for the third year in a row.
As a team, the Blue Demon men placed ninth for the third consecutive season, tying their best overall program finish. The DePaul women took home 14th place overall in their 6K run.
In the men's 8K race, the BIG EAST Championship's top six runners were all seniors--separated by less than 25 seconds. Blue Demons senior Graham was edged out for third place in a photo finish with Louisville's Matthew Hughes. Hughes' 23:38.2 8K time was just two-hundredths of a second faster than Graham, who took fourth in his final conference championship. Running at a 4:46 pace, the Glasgow, Scotland, native's finish was less than 20 seconds behind conference champion Eric Finan of Cincinnati (23:17.7).
Although Graham's fourth place finish was one spot behind his third place result last season--Graham improved his time by 1:30 on Louisville's fast-paced course. Of his four BIG EAST Championship races, Graham's 2011 run marked his top time. In 2009, Graham became DePaul's first All-Conference cross country runner when he placed 14th with a time of 25:17. In his first BIG EAST Championship race during his freshman season, Graham ran a 26:43 8K time.
The DePaul runners tied a program-best finish of ninth behind BIG EAST champion Villanova, Georgetown, Louisville, Syracuse, Providence, Notre Dame, Marquette, and Cincinnati.
Rounding out DePaul's top five men's runners, sophomore Chris Miedema (25:52.7) and junior Zak Koronkiewicz (25:53.7) led the Blue Demon pack with 63rd and 64th place finishes, respectively. Miedema, running in his second BIG EAST Championship, improved on his 2010 time (28:38.7) by nearly three minutes. Tyler Schmitt was the fourth DePaul runner to cross the finish line, clocking in with a time of 26:14.8, followed by Herald Alvarez, who crossed at 26:26.0 in what head coach Dave Dopek called a "gutty race."
In the women's 6K race, DePaul was again led by its seniors. Claire O'Brien was the first Blue Demon woman to cross. O'Brien, who took 76th, finished the race with a time of 22:52.9. Behind O'Brien, fellow seniors Kelly Pickering (23:08.5), who placed 81st, and Toni Salvatore (23:22.0), who placed 86th. Freshman Jacqueline Kasal, running in her first BIG EAST Championship race, rounded out the Blue Demons' top five when she crossed at 23:38.7.
Villanova also took home the BIG EAST Championship title in the women's race. Behind the Wildcats--in order--were Providence, Georgetown, Syracuse, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Connecticut, USF, Marquette, Rutgers, Louisville, Cincinnati, and St. John's.