CROSS COUNTRY | In Pre-NCAA Meets, GU To Size Up Competition
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 01:10
After weekends of rest for the Georgetown men’s and women’s cross country teams, both nationally ranked groups will race in their most competitive meets of the 2013 season so far. The women’s team is heading to the Pre-National Invitational at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind., while the men are traveling to Madison, Wis., for the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational.
Though the weather conditions in Indiana and Wisconsin should be ideal for racing, both of these meets represent difficult matchups for the Blue and Gray against other top cross country teams in the nation. The No. 5 women’s team will be racing against teams including No. 2 Florida State, No. 4 Washington, and No. 11 Stanford.
This Pre-National Invitational for the women’s team is a simulation of the national meet, Women’s Head Coach Michael Smith explained.
“Not only are we going run the same course that we’ll run at the national meet, but we’re going to replicate what that’s going to feel like with a couple hundred people on the starting line,” Smith said.
The women’s team has performed extremely well in its first two meets of the season, moving up from sixth to fifth in the national rankings. It won the Dartmouth Invitational and pulled off an exciting first place finish against 46 other teams at the Paul Short Invitational.
Though their performance thus far is impressive, Smith emphasized that those races mean little in comparison to this Pre-National Invitational.
“As of right now we’re ranked fifth but those are just polls, just people’s opinions. Really this meet is our first test, and the team knows that,” Smith said.
The Pre-National Invitational is also a chance for the Hoyas to finally get a clear view of their competitors.
“Of the teams I mentioned, I’m interested in how our no. 1, 2 and 3 girls will line up with their runners and how that will fall into place. Those other teams have runners who we’re finally going to get a chance to see,” Smith said.
In this particularly competitive meet, Smith is pushing the Hoyas to continue improving upon what the team places significant focus on throughout the season.
“Something we’re really trying to make a theme is constantly talking about racing for Georgetown and racing for each other, and not having a mentality of worrying too much about individual performances,” Smith said. “Instead, we want to just think of Georgetown’s result as all of our runners’ contributions. It’s a different mindset of seven individuals running out there or one team made up of seven individuals.”
The No. 24 men’s team will be at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational, a challenging race for the Hoyas.
“The Wisconsin Invitational is probably the most competitive invitational in the country, so I think that there are about 15 or 16 teams ranked in the top 25,” Assistant Coach Brandon Bonsey said. “We tend to view it as a precursor to the NCAA meet because we get to race against a lot of the teams that we’ll race against there.”
Though the Blue and Gray will certainly be keeping their eyes out for other strong teams, they want to mostly focus on what they can personally do to be better. This includes altering the strategy used at the Navy and Paul Short invitationals to a new frame of mind in Wisconsin.
“For the early season meets we really worked on getting used to being uncomfortable early, so we’ve gone out pretty fast in these first two meets and in practice also. We’ve worked on getting ready for different paces and being uncomfortable early on,” Bonsey said.
Instead of creating situations that will prepare them for future meets, the Hoyas will change their approach at the Wisconsin Invitational.
“This will be the first meet when we’re really trying to run well on that day. We’re just saying, ‘Hey, let’s have a race plan focused on how we can run our best on this day,’ whereas at Paul Short and at Navy it was more like, ‘Let’s go out really hard because that will help us later in the season.’ Then, it wasn’t really about the results on that day,” Bonsey said.
As they have for the entire season, the Blue and Gray’s standout runners in senior Bryan King and graduate student Andrew Springer are expected to post fast times in Wisconsin.
They men’s races will begin at 11:00 a.m. and the women’s races will begin at 11:40 a.m.