This weekend, the Georgetown cross country team will trudge through the rain and mud to Charlottesville, Va., to compete in the Lou Onesty Invitational at the University of Virginia. The No. 22 men’s squad, looks for a strong start to continue their success from last year, while the women debut as No. 1 in the nation for the first time ever.

Despite the preseason hype, the expectations have not changed.

“We want to be in a position where we are vying for a win at the Big East [championship], and then for a win at nationals,” Head Coach Patrick Henner said.

While the event draws teams from all over the nation, the primary competitor looks to be the hosts themselves, the No. 17 Virginia Cavaliers.

The first invitational of the year should get the Hoyas well acquainted with the competition, but Henneris being careful about peaking too early in the season.

“We’re not resting for the meet as far as our regiment goes, but we are trying to get the competitive juices flowing,” Henner said. “The guys have been training hard all summer, but it’s good to back in the flow of competing again.”

Still, Henner is optimistic about his team’s chances.

“All of our rising juniors, like Ben Furcht, Andrew Springer, and Bobby Peavey, are going to be crucial for our success,” Henner said. “Alex Lundy, a transfer from the University of Maryland, is looking great.”

The Blue and Gray are also welcoming a strong incoming freshman class. Omar Kaddurah, from Grand Blanc, Mich., is one of the top milers in the country. Joining him are two distance runners: John Murray from Shrewsbury, Mass and Collin Leibold from Falls Church, Va. But don’t expect to see any young blood too soon.

“It will be a last-minute decision as to if [any freshman] will start or if we’ll redshirt them,” Henner said.

The Hoyas are looking at both good and bad news on the injury front. Senior distance-runner Mark Dennin, who missed most of last year, should be healthy enough to compete by the second meet.

“Mark is coming along well, and he probably has the best success of anybody on the team,” Henner said.

Meanwhile, graduate student distance runner Ayalew Taye will likely miss most of the year due to a recurring Achilles injury that has plagued him since last spring. Taye, who is a returning regional champion, may not even be able to rejoin the team this year.

On the women’s side, the Blue and Gray return senior middle distance runner and national 5000m runner-up Emily Infeld, junior distance runner Emily Jones, graduate student middle distance runner Renee Tomlin and sophomore distance runner Madeline Chambers.

While the women will not travel to Virginia with the men, the squad certainly has its sights on the ultimate goal: An NCAA championship.

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