Youth is the theme of the opening weekend for the Georgetown cross country programs, as the men head to Annapolis, Md., for the Navy Invitational and the women head to Hanover, N.H., for Saturday’s Dartmouth Invitational.

The men’s side will run in two separate events at Navy, a short 3.2-mile race and a standard 8-kilometer race.

Younger Hoyas will dominate the scene in the 3.2-mile race, as sophomores Ahmed Bile, Ryun Holder and MikeLederhouse, none of whom competed regularly during the cross country season last year, will form the core of the team. Joining them and making his debut for Georgetown will be freshman Nate Gordon of Spartanburg, S.C. Spots in the 3.2 mile
are given to those who have not run much cross country since high school. The race provides the runners a chance to adjust to racing on grass again; additionally, Gordon will be exposed to his first college meet with a distance he is more comfortable with.

“The thought process with running some guys in the 3.2 miler is to rather have them run a true cross country pace for a shorter period of time, than run an 8k at a slower pace, this early in the season,” men’s Assistant Coach Brandon Bonsey said.

Forming most of the team in the 8k race, on the other hand, will be many of the more seasoned athletes, including All-American graduate student Andrew Springer, fellow grad student Dylan Sorensen and experienced seniors Brian King and Bobby Peavey.

The racing strategy for this early season meet will be focused on the beginning stages of the race, as some of the runners struggled last year when opponents set quick paces early on. This week, the team will work on starting fast to simulate an NCAA regional or national race. Then, they plan on settling in for the middle part of the race before ramping up the pace towards the finish. This is designed to get the runners comfortable with being uncomfortable and still being able to run well after being taxed early. As this is an early season meet, the team will focus on overall performances rather than race results and finish positions.

“This is a low-key meet, kind of a rust-buster for us, but I think it is important to kind of set the tone for the season, and get off on the right foot,” Bonsey said.

In the same vein, the women’s team will be focused on younger, less-experienced athletes and working on specific aspects of the race this weekend.

Making their Blue and Gray debuts will be three sophomores, Haley Pierce, Rachel Paul and Heather Martin, and three freshmen, Sabrina Southerland, Stefanie Kurgatt and Bobbie Burgess.

Several of the possible frontrunners for Georgetown will be held out of this race, including senior Maddie Chambers, junior Katrina Coogan and sophomore Sam Nadel.

“Chambers, Coogan and Nadel are anxious to go, but they need to be rested for November, so we’re going to be giving our younger athletes who haven’t been doing a lot of cross country races some time to shine,” said Women’s Head Coach Michael Smith.

The women’s squad is currently in a high-mileage stage of training, spending September preparing for the all-important post-season series in November.

This weekend’s emphasis, then, will be on giving new and less experienced team members a chance to get a low-pressure race in. The women’s team is very deep right now, so getting more and more athletes racing experience will contribute to momentum down the road when it matters most.

“We’ve got some people on our team that people maybe aren’t thinking a lot about right now, but we can see in training that these athletes are really coming along. What is going to be fun is giving these guys a chance to race. This is a preview to some of the athletes who are really going to make an impact,” said Smith.

The starting gun for the Navy Invitational is set for 11 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. for the Darmouth Invitational on Saturday.

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