The Georgetown cross country team will travel to Bethlehem, Pa. this weekend to compete in the Paul Short Invitational, its biggest event thus far. The No. 22 men’s and No. 1 women’s squads both look to continue a strong fall season against some of the toughest competition in the country.

The Hoyas will face their first real test of the season against a field that features several top 25 teams. For the men, an Oklahoma team that finished fifth nationally last year looks to be the favorite for the invitational. On the women’s side, the field includes three of the top five (including the Hoyas) and five of the top 10 teams in the country.

“This will be a great chance for us to get used to running surrounded by a lot of competition,” Director of Men’s and Women’s Track and Field and Cross Country Patrick Henner said.

Cautious pacing will be key for the Georgetown men, with the hope that they will able to close the race strongly.

“We’re going to go out a little conservatively, so we just want to stay aerobic and stay back a little bit,” Henner said. “We want to have a chance to run down the people we’re trying to catch. … We’re going to make sure that we are the team that’s moving forward over the [last part of the race].”

Georgetown will make sure to run as a team, in a pack, enabling the runners to move forward together at the end of the race. The Blue and Gray also look to their upperclassmen for experience against the loaded competition.

“We need our juniors to step up, and they’re all in incredible shape,” Henner said. “[Junior Andrew] Springer and [junior Bobby] Peavey need to step up, which I’m sure they’re ready to do.”

The women will take a similar approach with their pacing.

“We’re going to stay aggressive in the first mile to stay in the hunt, hang around there, and then run hard the last 1200 meters,” Assistant Coach Chris Miltenberg said.

The women’s team will go up against other top teams in the country with the goal of easing themselves into competitive races.

“This field is loaded. … We’re going to have to get used to running as a pack again,” Miltenberg said. “This is a more competitive race than [the Harry Groves Invitational at] Penn State. We have to get used to running in a high caliber field again.”

Unfortunately for the Hoyas, a barrage of minor injuries will keep several starters, including seniors Katie McCafferty and Emily Infeld, junior Rachel Schneider and graduate student Claire Richardson, out of the race.

However, the team is excited by the prospect of racing a younger team that features three freshmen.

“We’ve got a good team, a young crew. It’s a great chance for some of them to step up,” Miltenberg said.

That youth will be joined with experience, including juniors Emily Jones and Kirsten Kasper. But for The Hoyas, the event is still less about winning and more about getting used to competing at a high level.

“Everything we do is a means to getting ready for November,” Miltenberg said. “Then it’s championship time.”

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