While the outbreak of norovirus on campus this past week postponed many sporting events over the weekend, the men’s and women’s cross country teams had one-third of their regular season cancelled in one fell swoop as the Notre Dame Invitational and the Mason Invitational continued without the Hoyas.

With ample recovery time being a key component of the sport, cross country seasons are usually comprised of only a handful of regular season meets, and a postseason consisting of conference, regional and national championships. With three regular season meets slated for the 2008 season, the Hoyas are left with only one meet before the Big East Championship.

For the men, the news of the meet’s cancellation was especially surprising seeing as they had already traveled up to Notre Dame and were within a few hours of traveling from the hotel to the course when they got the news.

“Of course we were all very shocked and couldn’t believe it, and we were definitely disappointed and frustrated, just because we had made the trip to run, and didn’t get that chance,” redshirt junior Andrew Bumbalough said.

“Instantly we were just furious,” senior Mike Krisch added. “We pretty much just sat in the hotel room yelling at each other for a while.”

The meet would have served as a good test for the ninth-ranked Blue and Gray as they would have had the opportunity to face off against some tough competition including Big East foes Notre Dame and Providence.

For the women, the adjustment wasn’t as drastic, as the news broke on Friday before their planned trip to the meet the next day. While the women’s meet was not expected to be as competitive, the team was looking to have a good showing as they tuned up for pre-Nationals.

“[It] was definitely discouraging; it was going to be a good chance to get another hard effort in. It’s a little disappointing, but all in all I think we’re going to be fine,” women’s Head Coach Chris Miltenberg said.

That sentiment was echoed throughout both teams – the cancellations were a disappointment, but will not affect the teams as they continue their training for upcoming meets. As both teams are laden with upperclassmen, the consistent training will be enough to prepare for postseason. Nonetheless, as some Hoyas have not competed since last track season, many were itching to step onto the course.

“We’re mostly fourth- and fifth-year guys in our top group, and they have enough experience and mainly they have enough confidence,” men’s Head Coach Pat Henner said. “It’s not really going to bother them, although they were very disappointed because they were chomping at the bit to get out there and compete.”

The good news for both teams at this midway point in the regular season is that everyone is healthy and has been training at a high level. They have supplemented the loss of their meets this weekend with hard workouts to replace the kind of efforts they would have given on race day.

“I think everybody has made a lot of progress in the last three weeks. I don’t think there’s one person on the team who isn’t a different person now that they were three weeks ago coming off of Princeton,” Miltenberg said.

While the Hoyas return to competition in two weeks at the pre-Nationals meet for the women and the Penn State Invitational for the men, pre-Nationals stand as the first real test for the women as they look to build their case for an at-large bid to NCAAs against some of the nation’s best teams. While Penn State will be less competitive for the men, it will provide a chance to get a hard effort in on a challenging course. Even though the Hoyas have not competed for over a month, the teams remain confident that they will stay prepared with a focus on consistent training.

“In cross country, if you’re doing the physical work in terms of your training and if you have the mental side already down pat, then you don’t really need to race a lot to be in really good position to do well,” Bumbalough said.

“It definitely won’t affect us,” said Kirsch. “We don’t need to race, we’re good. Coming off of last year we definitely know what we can do.”

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