Off to a blazing start to the season, the Georgetown women and men’s cross country teams outpaced their competition, finishing in first and second place in the James Madison University and Navy Invitationals, respectively.

Heading into 2015, the women’s team earned a spot in the top five of the preseason rankings, while the men’s team was ranked No. 16.

Senior All-American Samantha Nadel led the women with a first-place overall finish and a time of 18:37.30 in the 5200-meter race. Sophomores Piper Donaghu and Autumn Eastman finished in second and third with respective times of 18:43.50 and 18:59.40.

“This first meet was more of a rust-buster and just about feeling what racing cross country is like. Overall, this weekend was more of a relaxed environment,” Nadel said. “I think we need to come to [future] races with the mindset that we’re just going to destroy everyone. We need to be focused on what we want to accomplish.”

Nadel made it clear that the team has high expectations for the season.

“Moving forward, I think we’re focusing on trying to be one of the best teams in the country. The flow-check preview just came out and ranked us fourth, so our goal is to be no lower than fourth,” Nadel said.

The Hoyas’ victory seems even more impressive when considering the bevy of injuries the team has suffered. The team hopes to regain its health and return runners to full fitness before Nationals.

“A lot of people on our team right now are injured or are coming back from injuries. I think that having everyone come together at the right time of the season will be one of our most important challenges of the season,” Nadel said.

In a similarly impressive showing, the men’s team finished second in its race in Annapolis, Md. Senior Mike Lederhouse led the team, finishing third overall in the 8000-meter race with a time of 25:02.36.

“Overall I was pleased with the effort that the men put in today. Mike Lederhouse showed great leadership finishing third overall, while Christian Alvarado made his cross country debut and proved why he was one of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school,” distance coach Brandon Bonsey said.

Alvarado finished fourth overall with a time of 25:05.77, while junior Connor Sheryak finished eighth overall with a time of 25:15.53.

The Hoyas’ strategy centered on running as a team and competing as a group, rather than as a collection of individuals. Bosney instructed track All-Americans junior Jonathan Green, senior Darren Fahy and junior Amos Bartelsmeyer to complete a tempo run within the race. The trio executed the plan perfectly and made the race easier for their teammates.

“We worked last spring on running as a team. If we keep that focus and remember who we are running for, I think that’ll lead us to a lot of success,” Lederhouse said. “This is definitely an exciting year. All the guys are looking very fit, and we’ve really expanded on our mentality of running as a team.”

The top finishes for both teams established a strong foundation to build on. The team hopes to continue its momentum throughout the season and into the NCAA Championships in November.

“Pretty much all of our training and preparation is focused on Nationals in November. That’s kind of what everything we’re doing is looking towards,” Lederhouse said. I think we can do a lot of big things at Nationals. I can’t say what place we’ll finish exactly but with our talent and strengths, we’ll be a top-10 team for sure.”

Before the team makes it that far, however, it has months of racing, practicing and team building. The creation of team building has been a special focus of several runners and is a task that many have enjoyed.

“Being together as a team, without any distractions, is awesome,” Nadel said.

The women’s team races next Sept. 25 in Boston, Mass., while the men’s team races next Oct. 2 in Bethlehem, Pa.

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