As the first leg of the NCAA Indoor Championship men’s distance medley relay came to a close, Georgetown was right where it wanted to be. Senior Matt Debole had just run one of the fastest 1200 meter legs in school history, splitting 2:54.7 and placing the Hoyas right behind top-seeded Texas. Sophomore Danny Harris took the baton in a clean exchange, determined to catch the orange-clad Longhorn just in front of him. Giving it all he had, Harris took the first 200m of his 400m leg at a blistering pace, coming in under 22 seconds. Yet as the initial adrenaline wore off, it became a struggle down the last straightaway, and Harris began to lose his stride. Staggering through the final few meters as a flurry of teams made moves to pass, Harris was bumped and collapsed on to the track a few feet before an open-handed Mike Banks, the baton falling to the track.

Within less than a minute, the Hoyas had gone from second to last. While nearly all attention was turned to the front of the pack, a steady Banks scooped up the baton and refused to quit. But even after running a respectable 1:52.4 800m, the Hoyas still found themselves almost completely out of the race. Sophomore Andrew Bumbalough, refusing to mail it in and rest for his 3000m the next day, took the baton from Banks and ran a split 56 seconds on the first 400m of the mile, bringing the rest of the field back. As the far-off singlets grew closer and closer, the excitement was building for Bumbalough and the Hoyas, as they saw themselves moving back into contention. Then, with 500m left, Bumbalough had not only caught the pack, but was now making his move around it. Coming down the final straightaway he vaulted himself into third, shocking all who had long since written the Hoyas off. With the fatigue of running down the field catching up with him in the last 40m, he was passed twice but crossed the tape in fifth, splitting a remarkable 3:56.1 mile and cementing all-American Status for his relay team.

While some may not have noticed the Hoyas’ resurgence, the performance was not lost on the Blue and Gray, who realized they had just witnessed history in what would prove to stand as the second fastest mile in school history.

“It was so impressive just to see him go from ninth up to third, and say, `It didn’t matter that I had to chase these guys down, I want to beat them,'” said an excited Debole.

“Andrew just ran an incredible race. It just shows that he’s the ultimate team kind of guy. … He turned what could have been a disaster into what was a great performance for him,” added Head Coach Pat Henner.

Yet for Bumbalough, giving up was never an option. “When you’re part of a relay team, your sole responsibility is to go out there and give everything you have – even if you think that it might be impossible,” he said.

As the action continued for Debole and Bumbalough in the 3000m the next day, the Hoyas would demonstrate that they still had more to accomplish, adding enough points for the Hoyas to finish 17th overall. Bumbalough, celebrating his birthday, made a decisive move early in the race to move up into second and avoid the jostling that was going on in the pack. Debole, hoping to score in the race, stayed composed in the back of the pack early on. As the race progressed, Bumbalough held his own, knowing that the race would come down to a final kick. Even as he picked up the pace over the last 800m, he slipped to fifth with only a lap to go. However, a resurgent Bumbalough would not go down easily, kicking hard in the final lap to reclaim and finish runner-up with a time of 8:02.22. Debole, despite falling off the pace for a few laps, recovered late and still finished a respectable 10th, joining “Bumbi” as an all-American in the event.

With the 3000m performance making it back-to-back outstanding performances for Bumbalough, he solidified himself as one of the top distance runners in the nation.

“Just an outstanding effort,” said Henner. “He learned a lot from it too. He’s putting himself in that position where he’s going to have the chance to win an NCAA title at some point.”

On the women’s side, senior Liz Maloy opened up the first day with a gutsy performance in the preliminaries for the mile, running a 4:43.44. Yet Maloy had to play a waiting game, as only the top 10 times made it to the finals and it was unclear whether or not she would qualify.

As the results came in, Maloy qualified, nabbing the 10th spot. She would make the most of it the next day, running a tough race to chase down the pack to finish good enough for all-American status in seventh, an impressive feat considering it was her fourth hard-run mile in the week.

“I was really nervous, I was all set to kind of pack it in and call it a weekend, but I was the last one in. At Nationals, it’s always a 0-0 score, you can do whatever you want when you get there, you take you’re chances, it’s fun,” Maloy said.

In the 5000m, Melissa Grelli added one more all-American performance for the Hoyas, hanging tough with the fast pace set by Texas Tech’s Sally Kipyego. Grelli stayed composed through the fast start, and ran a solid race to take sixth overall and add another piece of hardware to her impressive collection.

“I’m really proud of how everyone that went to Nationals did, we all came back all-Americans and that’s a pretty great showing,” said Grelli.

While the rest of the team was back home preparing for the upcoming outdoor season, coach Henner saw reason for the performances of the past weekend to inspire the squad.

“I think the performance by the people at the NCAA meet actually affects the whole team. We have several more people who were not there who realize now, `Hey I can compete at that level as well.’ These guys know they are training with Andrew and Liz on a regular basis and they can stay right with them in training, and I think we’re going to start seeing a couple other guys really step up to the national level.”

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