CROSS COUNTRY | Fahy, Nadel Head to Poland for Worlds
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Updated: Saturday, February 9, 2013 17:02
Georgetown University is known for its commitment to international relations and its abundance of students who study abroad every year. Now Georgetown athletics is getting into the spirit as well: Two freshman cross-country runners, Samantha Nadel and Darren Fahy, have qualified to represent the United States at the IAAF World Junior Cross Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland on March 24.
Nadel and Fahy qualified for Worlds by competing in the USA Cross Country Championships in St. Louis on Feb. 2. Nadel finished fifth in her race with a 6 kilometer time of 21:10, while Fahy placed fourth in the men’s race with a 24:51 8k time.
For each athlete, the qualification stood as just one of many accomplishments in a burgeoning cross country career.
Both Fahy and Nadel were elite athletes in their high school years. Fahy, for one, won a state cross country championship in California and then doubled in his senior state track meet, winning both the 3200- and the 1600-meter runs. Nadel likewise had a very successful four years, winning a New York state cross country title and earning runner-up honors in the state 3200m race as a senior.
After experiencing so much success in high school, then, the stage was set for the decision of where to run in college, and it was one that featured plenty of options.
“When I was looking for colleges, I knew that Georgetown was a great school academically and had a really good team,” Fahy said. “So I knew that I wanted to use my running to go to a great school, and Georgetown had the best balance. I was talking to them throughout my junior and senior year.”
For Nadel, the reasoning was similar, and the ultimate decision to commit to Georgetown was simple.
“Georgetown was one of the schools that called me first, and I took an official visit in the fall of senior year,” Nadel said. “It’s a great school and a great program, so I was set.”
After excelling in high school and joining the Hoya cross country squad, both Fahy and Nadel quickly rose to the occasion in their first semesters of collegiate running. Fahy ran one of the best freshman seasons in recent memory, earning a spot on the all-Big East team, and Nadel was a fixture in the Hoya women’s top five as well, running in the Big East meet, NCAA regionals and NCAA nationals.
Following so much success on the NCAA scene in the regular season, therefore, it seemed natural to try to qualify for Worlds.
“I never had the chance to qualify in high school because I was injured, so when I heard about Worlds for cross country this year, I was really excited to try to qualify,” Nadel explained.
In training for the cross country qualifier, Nadel and Fahy also had to simultaneously keep up with their track training, a testament not only to their dedication but also to their fitness levels.
Cross country Assistant Coach Brandon Bonsey organized most of the training for the qualifier, meaning that he got to see their progress and potential firsthand.
“A week before the Worlds qualifier, both Sam and Darren ran some track events at our home meet and did very well, hitting some times that put them among the best freshmen in the country,” Bonsey said. “A week later, they showed their versatility and fitness levels when they ran much longer distances to qualify for Team USA.”
Qualifying out of Junior Nationals was no simple feat, especially considering the high winds that prevailed on the day in addition to an extremely competitive field.
Because of the winds, all runners were forced to change their strategies at the start of the race. Energy had to be conserved out of the gate, as the athletes immediately focused on preparing for the race’s conclusion.
“I was really proud of how both Nadel and Fahy ran,” Bonsey said. “They executed their plans like veterans.”
Fahy was faced with a dogfight right down to the finish for the six qualifying spots — with a mile to go, some 20 athletes were packed together at the front. At the 800m mark, eventual winner Craig Nowak of Oklahoma State surged forward and caused the pack to string out. Fahy hung tough, though, and won a kicking battle in the final 200m to pull out the fourth-place finish.
Nadel, on the other hand, was in the top six for most of the race, chasing a group of two athletes who had pulled away early. Nadel’s chase pack comprised five athletes that held a consistent pace through most of the race until the pace picked up with a kilometer to go and one runner dropped. Nadel then closed out the race with a strong clutch push, claiming fifth and her ticket to Poland in the process.
“This is a huge deal for these athletes and our program. It is always a great honor to represent your country and wear the Team USA jersey,” Bonsey said. “We as coaches are very proud of the athletes."
“And as far as the race plan for Poland goes,” he added, “it is a real goal for both Darren and Sam to be the top United States finishers.”