Joe White wants you to know he isn’t your typical freshman runner.
Coming off an indoor season in which he ran the 800-meter leg on one of the nation’s fastest distance medley relay teams, the freshman burst out of the gates this outdoor season firing on all cylinders. This past weekend at the University of Florida, White set a new personal record in the 800m with a time of 1:47.57, good for 11th place on the all-time record list at Georgetown.
“A lot of the time with freshman runners you’ll see them have a really good race and then a really bad race,” Director of Track and Field Pat Henner said. “The thing that’s impressed me the most about Joe is that pretty much every time out, he has run either a good or a great race.”
One of the keys to White’s success could be seen toeing the clay alongside him at Saturday’s Florida Relays in Gainesville, Fla.: graduate student Billy Ledder. As the oldest member of the Hoya’s stable of middle-distance runners, Ledder has assumed a critical leadership role for the team both on the track and in the locker room.
“Give Joe and the young guys all the credit — they’re incredible athletes — but without the leadership of Billy Ledder, those guys wouldn’t be as good as they are today,” Henner said. “On a daily basis — on the track, off the track, travelling — there becomes a synergy in the group and someone has to spark it, and I think Billy has done a great job of it.”
According to White, this synergy has made all the difference in his first year on the Hilltop.
“In high school it was a lot different because I didn’t have many people to train with,” White said. “Going from training with no one to having such a great group of guys to train with I think has really helped me get into my groove, and the great times are coming with it.”
The scene that unfolded Saturday was made that much better as Ledder clocked in just tenths of a second behind the freshman phenomenon with a time of 1:47.89 in the 800m. White and Ledder placed highest amongst the group of Hoyas that traveled to Florida this weekend, finishing sixth and seventh overall, respectively, and simultaneously placing themselves in strong contention to qualify for the NCAA East Preliminaries.
At roughly the same time on Saturday, some 700 miles north of the University of Florida, graduate student Madeline Chambers — one of the Hoya runners who had been sent to Williamsburg, Va. for the Colonial Relays — took her place at the line.
After a senior year riddled with injuries, Saturday marked Chambers’ return to the outdoor-track stage, and the Hoya veteran proved she was back in a big way. In a race that reminded Hoya fans of her All-American status, Chambers turned in a 16:24.26 in the 5000m event, finishing second only to her fellow All-American teammate, senior Katrina Coogan.
“It came back quicker than I thought,” Chambers said of her conditioning on the track. “I didn’t have a stellar indoor season, but it was a step in the right direction that I needed to take, and for me, my focus is the outdoor season and making it to NCAA Finals.”
Luckily for Chambers, her coach foresees her success continuing throughout the outdoor season.
“Madeline is one of those athletes that can race at a higher level than her fitness level, so she’s always been a great competitor,” Henner said. “She’s just managed to put together back-to-back training seasons, so I think she’s going to be ready for a great outdoor season.”
The Hoyas will continue their outdoor campaign this Saturday in Fairfax, Va., for the George Mason Invitational.
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