Unfortunately for the rest of the nation, Georgetown’s stable of middle-distance runners keeps improving on a week-to-week basis.
Although Georgetown’s track and field program already boasts one of the deepest groups in the country, this week, two Hoyas — one each from the men and women’s teams — stepped up to add even more depth to the unit.
In her first 800-meter race of this outdoor season, junior Heather Martin led the Hoyas at the Mason Spring Invitational in Fairfax, Va., with a time of 2:07.35, edging out All-American Katrina Coogan by less than half of a second. The pair finished second and third overall out of over 70 competitors and put themselves in strong contention to qualify for the first round of the NCAA regional meet.
For Martin, the chance to make it to the NCAA regional meet is especially enticing, as she has shown an upward trend since the middle of this past indoor season and has yet to qualify for either a NCAA regional or finals meet in her first three years.
“I feel like I had a big breakthrough during the winter in the 800,” Martin said. “I gained a lot of confidence from the 800s I ran in indoor, so I’ve been hoping that would carry over into this season.”
The coaching staff considered Martin to be a late bloomer, and for them, watching her develop has been exciting and gratifying.
“It’s been really rewarding to see the way [Martin has] been able to race by the end of the indoor season and thus far outdoors,” Director of Track and Field Pat Henner said. “I think more than the times she’s getting, I’m just really enjoying watching her competitive spirit in the last parts of races.”
Martin credits a shift in her mentality on the track as a contributor to a surge late in her career.
“I’ve been training really consistently for the past year, and I think one of the biggest differences was gaining more confidence in myself during races,” Martin said. “I had a couple good races, and I just began seeing myself as someone who can compete with the best people. I don’t necessarily worry about the time and the splits that I’m running, I just really focus on racing bodies and competing against the best in the field.”
On the men’s side, sophomore middle-distance runner Nate Gordon did his best on Saturday to separate himself from an especially talented group of 800m runners. After switching from the 400m during the indoor season to the 800m for the outdoor season, Gordon’s season opener at the Florida Relays on April 4 was not without frustration — the sophomore finished in 34th place with a time of 1:50.94.
“In Florida, he basically got too hyped up,” Henner said. “He wanted go out there and bust out a big time and he was a bit over-zealous, a little over-aggressive and he paid for it down the final straightaway. We just talked and decided we were just going to focus on competing and let the clock take care of itself.”
Gordon’s new strategy led to a first-place finish among 70 runners with a time of 1:50.99.
“This past week, I was focusing on coming out a lot slower for the first lap,” Gordon said. “I think the huge thing was focusing on not being in the front [like in Florida]. At George Mason, I just sat in the back and just waited until there was 200m left to go and just outkicked everyone else in the field.”
The outcome? One very pleased head coach.
“The race at GMU was probably his best collegiate race ever,” Henner said. “The time for him wasn’t really fast but he won the race, and if he keeps racing like that he’s going [to] get in the right situations and the time will take care of itself.”
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