FAIRFAX, Va. – Although Georgetown has been a household name in collegiate track and field, the hurdles have not been a strength of the program for some time. However, at the Father Diamond Invitational at George Mason University last weekend, the 60-meter hurdles were a highlight for the Hoyas, who showed they have the young potential to build a national-caliber hurdle contingent.

To begin, senior Terrell Gissendanner, who had been the lone hurdler in the program during his earlier days at Georgetown, ran a solid 8.12 seconds in the preliminaries of the 60-meter hurdles, showing he might be back to his 2007 form, where he had finished third in the Big East. Yet the real surprise of the preliminaries was freshman Kamryn Austin, who ran at 8.13 and put himself on the scoreboard as a threat to score at the conference meet. Gissendanner finished third in finals and Austin fifth, and they were joined by freshman Biyerem Okengwu, who showed another flash of potential by finishing fourth in 8.31 seconds.

When the results are combined with the track record of sophomore Chris Kinney, who holds GU’s best time of 7.97 seconds in the event, the possibility of Georgetown becoming an elite hurdle program is immense.

“It’s exciting because the potential is there,” Head Coach Pat Henner said. “What we need now is [to have them,] push themselves so one of them can break through to the next level. Once they do that, then I can say, `Hey, we have a top level hurdle group.'”

On the women’s side, freshman London Finley showed yet another sign the hurdle program is turning the corner – she finished first in the event, clocking in at 8.8 seconds.

“I was really happy with her, she’s a big-time athlete, she can definitely be a huge contributor to the team,” Henner said.

One of the keys to drawing talented hurdlers to the university in recent years has been an improvement in facilities in Yates that ensures that the group has a place to train year-round. The most important reason for an upswing in recruitment, however, was the addition of world-class athlete Shelia Burrell as an assistant coach last season. As a two-time Olympian and five-time U.S. National Champion in the heptathlon, Burrell works closely with the hurdlers and is a big draw for incoming recruits.

Pointing to the success of the rebuilding efforts, one of the top hurdling recruits of the class of 2010 has already committed to Georgetown.

Other Highlights:

– Junior Tommy McCoubrey, who missed all of last season with injuries and wrist surgery, had a promising shot put performance in which he threw 15.03 meters to place first.

– Freshman Mark Dennin made his collegiate debut in the mile and won in convincing fashion, leading from start to finish to win in four minutes, 17 seconds. “I’m very convinced that he could end up being a big-time college runner,” Henner said.

– Senior Maggie Infeld ran away from the field, running a solid 2:11.68 in the 800 meter to take first place.

– Senior Liam Boylan-Pett, who has eligibility only for the outdoor season, ran unattached in the 1000 meter and kicked down 2008 graduate Matt Debole in the last 25 meters to win in 2:24.55. Junior Sandy Roberts finished third in the event as well, rounding out a top-three Hoya finish.

– Junior Abigail Johnson ran strong in both the 200 meter and 400 meter, taking fourth (25.29) and second (56.8) respectively.

– Senior Buky Bamigboye finished second in the long jump with a leap of 5.68 meters.

– Georgetown alumna Susan Hendrik took first in the 1000 meter, in 2:53.99, followed closely by freshman Lauren Borduin, in 2:55.91, who showed promise in her first collegiate race.

– Junior Kelsey Malmquist placed second in the mile, clocking in at 5:12.33.

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