The Georgetown women’s cross country team lined up at the NCAA Pre-Nationals this past weekend at Indiana State University in almost the same scenario as the year before. Faced with maybe the toughest region in the nation, the team needed to knock off several ranked teams in order to secure a better chance for an at-large bid to the National meet, which stands a little more than a month away. Luckily, the Hoyas had a familiar face to lead the way.

Having used all of her eligibility last year, graduate student Liz Maloy never thought that she’d have the opportunity to race collegiately for the Blue and Gray. Yet seeing that Maloy only raced twice in cross country between her freshmen and sophomore years at Georgetown, the team decided to file for an extra year of eligibility with the NCAA. After compiling a thick report of all the medical files that documented a host of injuries that stemmed from two stress fractures, Maloy and the team learned over the summer that she would be granted one more year of eligibility.

This past weekend, Maloy – who plans to earn her degree at the end of this semester – took advantage of the fortuitous situation, pacing the Hoyas with a 20:43.3 mark over the six-kilometer course to finish 13th in her first race of the season.

“It really felt awesome. … I wasn’t expecting to be granted this at all. Definitely when I crossed the finish line I could feel myself getting teary-eyed because I know that this is definitely it. I don’t think I’ll be getting anymore seasons,” Maloy said.

Following Maloy was senior Natasha Labeaud, who finished 28th. Freshmen Emily Infeld and Katie McCafferty, racing in the first big-time race of their college careers, handled the pressure well, moving up in the field as the course progressed, finishing 39th and 44th, respectively. Senior Lise Ogrodnick rounded out the top five, placing 66th.

Combined, the 19th-ranked Hoyas scored 186 points to tie for fourth place in the Pre-Nationals Women’s White Race with 17th-ranked Illinois. In an effort that will surely help in the struggle for at-large points, Georgetown placed ahead of eighth-ranked Arizona State, 12th-ranked Stony Brook and 14th-ranked Baylor. Now the Hoyas have to hope that the aforementioned teams will automatically advance from their weaker regions, which will in turn help the Hoyas’ case.

“I think we’re sitting pretty good. You never can be certain, but I think we beat a good number of teams who have much easier regions who should be able to make it out. Obviously crazy things can happen … but I’m feeling pretty good about it,” Women’s Head Coach Chris Miltenberg said.

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On the men’s side, the team traveled to Penn State where the eighth-ranked Hoyas easily took first with a solid performance against a moderately competitive field. With Georgetown opting not to compete in Pre-Nationals, the Hoyas used this past weekend’s meet as an opportunity to race on tired legs and simulate coming from behind in a race.

Senior Justin Scheid conservatively paced the Hoyas through three miles, purposely putting the team further back in the pack than they are accustomed to being. However, the Hoyas handled the situation nicely, battling back on the tough course and finishing strong. Redshirt junior Andrew Bumbalough fought from around 40th to take first in 25:10, shortly followed by classmate Levi Miller who had a strong last mile to move up from 10th to third. Scheid himself finished ninth, with sophomore Ayalew Taye finishing 12th and senior Mike Banks rounding out the Hoya top five with an 18th-place finish.

With the field at Nationals always crowded with superb runners, the aforementioned race plan served to familiarize the Hoyas with situations in which they could find themselves deep in the pack midway through the race.

“I just wanted them to realize that they are strong enough now that if they are back a little bit, not to panic, to just stay patient and it will come to them,” Head Coach Pat Henner said.

With weekly mileage still at upwards of 80 to 90 miles for most of the squad, the meet also served as a confidence builder for the tired runners.

“Considering how tired I felt going into the race, I think that I performed pretty well, and it definitely gave me confidence going into Big Easts,” Bumbalough said.

Going into Big Easts in two weeks, Bumbalough and the Hoyas look to draw upon that confidence as they hope to end a four-year streak of runner-up finishes. With a mature team led by upperclassmen, the Hoyas head into the meet as clear favorites.

“Ever since I’ve been here, we’ve been second place, which definitely doesn’t sit well with anybody. Some teams might be okay with finishing second, but for us but that’s just not what we’re there to do,” Bumbalough said.

The Hoyas should see the return of junior Mike Krisch, who was slated to run his first race of the year this past weekend but was a last-minute scratch with a tight hamstring. However, sophomore Sandy Roberts, who has looked great in practice thus far and could make a definite impact on the team this season, did not race again, indicating that he will be redshirted in a move that aims to keep the Hoyas a national power after the graduation of a strong group of fourth-year runners.

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