COURTESY GUHOYAS Senior Tyler Smith will lead the returning runners of the team.
Senior Tyler Smith will lead the returning runners of the team.

This weekend, the Georgetown men’s track and field team will begin its indoor season at the Navy Invitational in Annapolis, Md.

Georgetown is no stranger to the Navy Invitational, which is a perennial season opener for the track and field program, but a dynamic mix of returning leadership and impressive underclassman talent promises an especially strong start to the 2014-2015 season.

After an intense fall training regimen, Saturday will mark the Hoyas’ first opportunity to line up against other competitors, including host Navy, American, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Bowie State. However, Director of Track and Field Patrick Henner is more concerned about how Georgetown’s results will dictate its next month of practice than how the team will compare to its competition.

“We’re not too worried about the outcomes, the times on the watch or the distance on the tape measure,” Henner said. “We’re more concerned with execution and effort. It’s the first meet of the year, so we need to be focused on executing our race plans and race patterns. As long as we do that, and if we keep training [well] over Christmas break … then we’re going to end up with some really fast times.”

Although the season is just beginning, Georgetown will not have another meet until January. December will provide ample time for the Hoyas to build off of this weekend’s results, which Henner anticipates will be impressive based on what he’s seen from the team thus far.

Georgetown has a solid base of returning athletes, including senior Tyler Smith, who should continue to be a reliable contributor during short sprinting events. Smith has made appearances in events at the 2012 and 2013 Big East Outdoor Championships, running a personal best of 10.79 in the 100-meter event at the 2012 preliminaries.

“Tyler is so much more fit than he’s ever been,” Henner said. “He’s been working really hard in the weight room. I’m very excited about what he can do.”

Henner said that senior Richard D’Ambrosio has also been training well this past fall. His presence on the team will provide dependable senior talent for the Hoyas in jumps and hurdles. D’Ambrosio currently holds the 24th-best performance in Georgetown history in the long jump with a personal record of 6.65 meters and the 22nd-best performance in the 300m event with a time of 36.74.

Henner predicts that both Smith and D’Ambrosio will have particularly strong seasons.

“I’m just really excited to watch them get out there and compete,” Henner said. “They’re going to do big things.”

While Henner has no doubt that he can rely on his upperclassmen for solid finishes this weekend, he is excited to see how his new runners will adjust to a new level of competition.

Freshman Joe White, a two-time high school All-American, is expected to have an especially prolific first season. White will run the 400m event Saturday during his collegiate debut and will contribute to a reputable core of middle-distance runners as the season continues.

“We’ve got some very talented athletes that are going to warm up on Saturday,” Henner said. “[White] was one of the best 800m runners in high school and one of the fastest that Georgetown has ever had come in.”

Overall, the freshman class will be a major asset to the team this season. However, to find long-term success, the upperclassmen will need to set a high standard for their younger teammates Saturday.

“All of those guys are extremely talented, and I feel like they’re some of the best freshmen that we’ve ever had here at Georgetown,” Henner said. “They’re going to follow the lead of the older guys, so we need everybody out there executing and giving a great effort.”

After this weekend, Georgetown will concentrate its efforts on preparing for a heftier schedule, which will begin with the Father Diamond Invitational at George Mason University on Jan. 10. Seeing the team in a competitive environment at the Navy Invitational will allow the coaching staff to build a more concentrated training regimen for a busy indoor season.

“We can … detect strengths and weaknesses and things we need to shore up on when we get back and really get into the [heart] of the season,” Henner said. “A lot of the athletes have been training all fall without any competition, so just getting out there and being able to compete will be a lot of fun.”

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