The UNH Coaches Blog will be a weekly feature in which selected coaches share thoughts and insights about their program. This week’s inaugural blog highlights the cross country, volleyball and women’s ice hockey teams.

I am happy to have this opportunity to participate in this year’s UNH coaches blogs for the men’s and women’s cross country and track programs. This is a unique new opportunity for myself, coach Boulanger and coach Carroll to communicate to the UNH community the inside scoop on the cross country and track programs.

Before writing about the team I would like to thank the UNH community for the continued support of the programs. It is through the support of our alumni, fans and friends in the community that we have built the programs’ success. A huge piece of this equation has been our volunteer coaches. For years, these individuals have given their time and commitment to the student-athletes of the cross country and track programs. George Liset, (throws) Ian Bodwell, (pole vault) and Carl Mitchell, (distance) are all invaluable pieces of the program. We have also benefited from a long list of gifted grad assistants. The latest in great young UNH coaches is Anna Magle, who is starting her third year at UNH.

As important as our coaches are the alumni and friends. It is through your valued support that we have been able to build both our outdoor track and reconstruct the indoor track. Thank you for all that you do for the program. Please mark your calendars and attend our home indoor meet on January 23, and our home outdoor meets on April 3, 10, 24 and the America East Championship meet on May 1 and 2nd. We are able to host these home meets because of the hard work of “coach Boulanger’s” officials. Again I would like to thank all of our officials. Without you we would not be able to host these great meets.

At this point we are well into the cross country season. The men’s team is led by a group of seven seniors and fith-year grad students. Nate Bassett, Nick Decrescenzo, Wes Dinnan, Ben Jenkins, Josh Kearns, J Wes Moseman, and Mark Ouellette are looking to continue the UNH tradition of cross country excellence. The men’s team has won 8 out of the last 11 America East Conference Championships. Coach Boulanger certainly feels that this team, with the addition of a great incoming class, has the ability to be another great UNH team. After winning the invitational at Vermont on September 13th, last week the team ran at the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University. Highlighted by Josh Kearns’ 24:37 for 5 miles we are looking forward to the New England Championships at Franklin Park in Boston on 10/10.

We all have high hope for the women’s team coming off of last years 9th place finish at the NCAA regional meet. This young team is off to a slow start dealing with a series of small setbacks. Things started to take a turn for the better at this weekend race at Lehigh. Highlighted by Sydney Fitzpatricks 23rd place finish in 20:59 for 6 kilometers and Allison Letourneau and Courtney Hamer’s PR’s, the team is starting to run up to its abilities. We are looking to continue to improve, starting with the New England Championship meet.

On a final note, it is always great to see so many UNH cross country alumni in the results of local road races. Coach Carroll – UNH class of 1994 – has had a great summer winning a number of local contests. Lesley Hocking (formerly Read, Class of 2004), ran a great 2:49 marathon this past weekend.

(Robert Hoppler is in his seventh year as the UNH women’s cross country head coach. He has assisted with the men’s cross country and track distance runners for 13 years.)

Time 2 Shine in ’09! We’re off to a good start after competing in a challenging pre-season. Congratulations to our all-tournament selections including: Justine Elliott (at Syracuse); Sara Heldman (at UConn); Lindsay Fogarty (at URI); Kate Uitti (at UNH); and Kate Uitti and Lindsay Fogarty (at Providence).

Our home attendance continues to be one of the leaders on the east coast. We enjoyed over 1,000 people throughout the weekend at our second annual Holly Young Invitational! Last weekend, we held our third annual Breast Cancer Awareness match and are still raising money hoping to reach our $5,000 goal!

So far, Lindsay Fogarty and Kate Uitti are leading the offensive end with 174 kills and 545 assists, respectively. Defensively, Justine Elliott and Sara Heldman are paving the way with 51 total blocks and 286 digs, respectively. It’s great to have three-time America East Conference award winner Kirsten Bates back in the lineup after recovering from ACL surgery.

Also, congratulations to three-time captain Kate Uitti for reaching the 3,000 assist mark at our home tournament against Arizona State! The first round of conference play is just starting and we’re looking forward to a competitive fight for the America East conference title and another trip to the NCAA Championships!!!

(Jill Hirschinger is in her 14th season as UNH volleyball head coach. She has recorded more than 200 victories at UNH and surpassed 600 total in her career.)

With two weeks and one exhibition game under their belts, we opened our season this past weekend with a pair of solid wins at the Whitt. Ten new faces took the ice in Saturday's home opener. We entered the weekend with a ton of question marks, but our young team seemed anxious to put themselves to the test.

Saturday we faced the University of Connecticut, coming away with a 3-1 victory; a terrific way to start the year. I thought our team played aggressively on both sides of the puck winning the majority of the one-on-one battles. We were very encouraged by the play of our young blueline, which featured three freshmen making their Wildcat debuts- Katie Brock, Kailey Chappell and Bryanna Farris. Coupled with the veteran play of Courtney Birchard, Raylen Dziengelewski and Courtney Sheary, I thought our defense played with a lot of poise for week one.

Offensively we got balanced scoring and contributions from every line. Leading the way were three veterans, Micaela Long, Kelly Cahill and Kelly Paton. On the other end, freshmen Kristine Horn and Brittany Skudder tallied their first career goals as Wildcats! Julie Allen, Kristine LaVoie and Brittany Skudder's line was a physical presence all weekend long.

October features six additional non-league contests that tell us a lot more about where our team stands in the overall national picture. Already the injury bug has reared its head, shuffling the roster right out of the gate. It should be an interesting and entertaining month!

(Brian McCloskey is in his eighth year as UNH women’s ice hockey head coach. He also spent nine years as an associate head coach with the UNH men’s ice hockey team.)

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