For Georgetown’s men’s and women’s cross country teams, last year’s NCAA Championship was not the finale to the great season that it was supposed to be.

“The number one thing from NCAAs is that we want to know leaving there that we ran our best race,” women’s Head Coach Chris Miltenberg said. “The hard part of last year was that we all left last year knowing that that wasn’t anywhere near who we were or what we were capable of.”

Using last year’s disappointment as a valuable learning experience, this year’s Hoyas look poised to prove that they are even better than who they really were last year.

Led by a strong contingent of fourth and fifth year runners, the men return six of their top seven from a squad that placed runner-up at the Big East and 14th at Nationals a year ago. All-American and lead runner Andrew Bumbalough is coming off the experience of having competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials over the summer, and in Head Coach Pat Henner’s words, “seems to have more fire in him now than I’ve seen.”

The pack behind “Bumby” is filled with experienced Hoya seniors such as Levi Miller, Mike Krisch, Alex Mason, Justin Schied and a healthy Mike Banks who are looking to maintain Georgetown’s reputation as one of the deepest squads in the nation. Graduate student Liam Boylan Pett from Columbia University could find himself among the group as well.

Noting the Hoyas’ depth this year especially, Henner hopes to have the luxury of redshirting a majority of talented junior class runners in order to ensure them an extra year of eligibility down the road. “Right now we have that core of fourth years, that’s why if at all possible I want to redshirt some of the other guys so that we can extend this group’s impact over a longer period of time,” Henner said.

If that plan comes to fruition, the Hoyas are leaning heavily on the sophomore class of TC Lumbar, Ayalew Taye and James Grimes to become major contributors. Taye is the only one with big time experience, having run at Big Easts, Regionals and Nationals last year. Lumbar saw only limited racing action and Grimes redshirted the season.

“If I could emphasize any one group it would be the sophomores. I think they’re going to be critical to team success this year. They’re all guys who are now ready to step in and start contributing. I think how those guys go, for a large part is how are team goes,” Henner said.

No matter who steps on the course for the Hoyas, it will be the team’s depth that will give Georgetown a legitimate shot at winning the Big East and fulfilling some pundits’ prediction of a top five finish at the Nationals.

In the upcoming season, the women’s squad is looking for a talented group of third and fourth year runners to take ownership of the team and lead an extremely talented freshman class. With lead runner Melissa Grelli’s departure to Oregon for grad school, juniors Lauren Gregory, Kelsey Malmquist, Renee Tomlin and Natasha LaBeaud along with fourth years Lise and Avril Ogrodnik are saddled with the responsibility of stepping into the leadership role.

“It’s their turn now,” Miltenberg said. They know this is their team now. They’re not freshmen and sophomores who can hang back and expect somebody else to pull them out of the fire. They know they are going to have to be the ones to do it.”

Luckily, there to help will be graduate student Liz Maloy, who was granted another year of eligibility this summer by the NCAA due to an injury suffered earlier in her career. “The biggest recruit we got was getting back Liz Maloy for another fall,” Miltenberg said.

The Hoyas feature two of the best incoming freshmen in the nation in Emily Infeld and Katie McCafferty. Infeld, the Nike Outdoor National Champion in the mile, sports a 4:43 mile and 2:07 800. McCafferty, coming in as the reigning Nike Indoor two-mile champion, posted an 11:17 mark last spring.

“I like people that come into college on the upside and that’s the thing about both of them; they’re just getting better and better at the end, so I think they are both two people this fall that I’m counting on to make us better right away,” Miltenberg said.

The Hoyas look to compete in an extremely tough Big East and move beyond their lackluster performance at Nationals a year ago. Embracing the depth of the program the Hoyas feel like they have proven personnel on both sides to continue the successful tradition of the program.

“At Georgetown that’s what we emphasize … running really well when it counts and being performers. With the group of people we have now, that’s what they are. We may not have the best PRs anywhere, but they are people that will line up and I can count on them to get it done when it matters,” said Miltenberg.

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