CROSS COUNTRY | GU Heads to Louisville Hoping for Return Trip
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 00:10
The Georgetown men’s and women’s cross country teams are set to face some of the toughest competition in the country tomorrow at NCAA Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Ky.
On the men’s side, the No. 20 Hoyas will have to get past three top-10 teams in No. 3 BYU, No. 7 Colorado and No. 9 Tulsa. Three other teams ranked in the nation’s top 15 will also be in Kentucky this weekend, including a familiar face for Georgetown, No. 12 Villanova.
In addition to being a test against tough competition, this weekend’s meet gives Georgetown a chance to get a trial run over the course where the NCAA championship will be held next month.
“In the past, we haven’t gone to Pre-Nationals as much because the guys knew the course well, but this year, Nationals is at Louisville for the first time in a while, so we felt that it was important to get on the course at Louisville with a large field,” Assistant Coach Brandon Bonsey said.
Georgetown All-American graduate student Mark Dennin — who took first place overall in the Hoyas’ previous outing at Lehigh’s Paul Short Run and was subsequently named Big East cross country athlete of the week — will be withheld from this meet for training and rest purposes.
Front running duties will then likely fall to senior Andrew Springer, who will probably be closely followed by the tandem of senior Ben Furcht and sophomore Collin Leibold.
The four other runners for Georgetown in the race — senior Dylan Sorensen, junior Brian King, sophomore Miles Schoedler and freshman Darren Fahy — will be looking to stay close to Furcht and Leibold in order to minimize the Blue and Gray’s average time and team gap.
“It’s a really strong field; and we’re excited to mix it up with those other top-20 teams, even with holding out Mark [Dennin] and sacrificing a better team performance in the short term in order to have better team performances when it counts in November by keeping our guys fresh,” Bonsey said. “We’re deep enough through our four to 12 runners to make good things happen, but, as always, we have to keep pulling all the guys on the team up and focus on getting better.”
And if the field for the men’s meet seems deep, that’s nothing when compared to the group of world-beaters that the No. 6 Hoyas will face on the women’s side. That impressive group includes No. 1 Florida State, No. 4 Oregon and No. 8 Michigan.
“At this stage in the game, everybody wants to talk about team matchups and who is beating whom, but we’re not concerned with that,” women’s Head Coach Michael Smith said. “We are going to be a great team in November. I like it when teams are too good in October, because that means we will be the better team in November. So the plan is to just go out there and relax and execute the plan.”
The Blue and Gray will use their trip to the Bluegrass State to debut their top lineup for the first time this year. Seniors Emily Jones, Kirsten Kasper and Rachel Schneider, junior Madeline Chambers and sophomores Katrina Coogan, Annamarie Maag and Hannah Neczypor will all take the course in Louisville.
With no clear frontrunner, the team should be able to finish very close to one another, giving them a shot at a very low team score.
“All seven of those athletes, if they were our number one runner, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit. All seven are good enough athletes and in good enough shape to be the number one runner,” Smith said.
Because Pre-Nationals has approximately the same amount of athletes competing as the National meet, the runners and coaching staff will have the opportunity to observe how the hundreds of participating athletes handle the course, helping Smith and the Hoyas prepare for the end-of-season championships.
“For me, this is all about timing. I don’t think it’s hard to get people in shape. It’s all about getting people in shape at the right time. We are not a team that trains to win meets at this time in the season,” Smith said. “However we finish, it’s back to work as normal the next week. We will see what we really have in the coming month.”
Despite the focus on the long run, Georgetown will hope for performances that will catapult them back to the River City in 46 days for a chance at the national title.