Cross Country | GU Aims for 2nd Straight Win

This upcoming weekend, the No. 4 Georgetown women’s cross country team will compete in the Coast-to-Coast Beantown Invitational meet in Boston for the second time. The No. 18 men’s cross-country team competed in the Beantown Invitational last season — finishing fourth in a field of 18 teams — but it will not participate this season.

The Hoyas will look to build on an impressive outing at the JMU Invitational. Led by strong performances by senior Samantha Nadel, who placed first in the 5200-meter race with a time of 18:30.37, the Hoyas placed first overall in the meet.

Sophomores Piper Donaghu and Autumn Eastman finished immediately behind Nadel in second and third place, respectively. They were followed by sophomore Kennedy Weisner, who finished sixth, and senior Heather Martin, who finished seventh, giving the Hoyas five of the top seven finishers in the meet. Georgetown defeated James Madison, George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth to earn its first place finish. As a result of their strong performance, the Hoyas moved up one spot to No. 4 in the national rankings, which were released Tuesday.

As the team travels to Boston for Friday’s meet, the focus is on providing support and encouragement to each other. The team’s upperclassmen, including senior Heather Martin and Nadel said they try to cheer on the underclassmen on the roster. “I’m not really sure which teams are even going, but I’m not really worried about them, I don’t think anyone is, since we’re just trying to see what we can do as a team and really find our identity as a team this year, that’s what we’re really trying to work on right now,” Martin said.

Donaghu, Eastman and Weisner will look to continue to run at a high level on Friday. This trio finished in the top six at the JMU Invitational. In order for the Hoyas to have a chance to claim first place on Friday, the sophomores must have another fine showing.

“I think that we’re really excited about this Boston meet because it’s a much bigger meet than the JMU meet was, and that was a really low-key first meet and a lot of us just ran it as a work out. So we’re really excited to race against some good teams now and have some good competition and really try to come together as a team for this,” Martin said.

After winning the JMU Invitational, Georgetown enters the Coast-to-Coast Invitational looking to continue the success it has seen at the meet in the past. In 2014, the Hoyas placed second out of 18 teams, led by graduate student Katrina Coogan, who finished fourth overall with a time of 17:07.0. The Hoyas also saw graduate student Andrea Keklak and Eastman turn in fine performances as they finished in 11th and 23rd, respectively. Michigan, which won the meet last year, will not return to compete in 2015.

According to Head Coach Michael Smith, meets like the Coast-to-Coast Invitational provide an exciting opportunity for all of Georgetown’s top runners to lead the team.

“Anyone can step up on any given day and that’s just the way we have to see it as a team this year. We look for those natural spaces for our athletes to emerge and be fulfilled and defined as we go through the weeks,” Smith said.

Nadel echoed Smith’s sentiments, emphasizing the fact that the team is still discovering its identity.

“We don’t exactly know what’s going to happen because every year is a new team so we don’t know exactly what we’re capable of accomplishing, we’re going to put our best foot forward and see what happens,” Nadel said.

Because of their experience last year, the Hoyas are familiar with this course. Unlike track and field, each cross-country meet presents a unique race path that contains its own distinctive advantages and disadvantages. Familiarity with a course’s route can provide a runner with a sense of confidence and optimism leading up to the race.

“I think everybody is really excited. A lot of girls on the team raced on this course a lot in high school, so they know it really well,” Martin said. “I really liked the course last year when we went and I think a lot of people did. The weather should be good for a good race.”

The Coast-to-Coast Beantown Invitational, which is hosted by Boston College, will take place all day Friday.

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