CROSS COUNTRY | Runners Set for Lehigh Meet
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 23:09
Georgetown’s men’s and women’s cross country teams will be back in action today at Lehigh’s Paul Short Invitational, with both looking to build on strong showings in their season openers three weeks ago.
The women, defending NCAA champions, won the Dartmouth Invitational that weekend, defeating Syracuse, Connecticut, Middlebury and their hosts in the process.
“They are very tough [and] they are great racers, so I think the key for our women is going to be relaxed execution,” Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Patrick Henner said.
The Hoyas finished fourth in the Paul Short last season. Providence, which returns four of its top five runners from last year’s meet, looms as the biggest challenge for Georgetown, which will also clash with Big East rivals Villanova and Syracuse.
“The women are currently in the middle of a heavy training block, so we might sit a couple of our top athletes out just to let them focus on their training,” Henner said. “But I think we’re still going to be a competitive team even with some of our big guns in reserve.”
Senior Emily Jones was the leading runner last year at Lehigh, clocking a 20:48. Her classmate Rachel Schneider, who led Georgetown at the Dartmouth Invitational, will also be looking to finish in the top group.
Given what he saw in New Hampshire, Henner is optimistic about how his team will perform, even given last year’s lofty standards.
“This is a new year, a new team. We may not have a really, really low number, but I think our depth might be better than last year,” Henner said. “We could end up being a great team again this year.”
The Blue and Gray look just as good on the men’s side, with the squad finishing second — 32 points shy of Princeton — in Penn State’s Spiked Shoe Invitational three weeks ago.
“The preparation has gone very well. It’s probably some of the overall best team training that I’ve had a group do in my coaching career, so we’re really excited to see the guys get out there and race,” Henner said of the men’s efforts.
Georgetown will be led by graduate student Mark Dennin and senior Andrew Springer.
Springer covered the 8000m in 26:25 at the Spiked Shoe, averaging 5:19 per mile. He was followed closely by Dennin, who crossed the finish line in 26:30.
“Springer and Dennin are both among some of the best athletes in the country, and I think they both have a good chance of being All-Americans this year and could be running at the very front of the pack [today],” Henner said.
Dennin and Springer will be joined by senior Ben Furcht, who finished nearly alongside Springer in State College. Junior Max Darrah will also be looking to close the gap on the older runners, having run a 26:33 at the Spiked Shoe.
In the team race, the Hoyas will face tough competition from conference rival Villanova, which returns two sub-26-minute runners. The Blue and Gray will also be competing against perennial foe Princeton. The Tigers have one runner capable of going sub-26, and three others right around the times of the Hoya top three, according to Henner.
“For us to be successful this year, Dennin and Springer need to be frontrunners. I think the advantage we have, though, is that by the time we get to Big East and NCAAs, we will have five guys that will all be able to run together,” he said. “I think that we have the depth to do that.”
Between demonstrating that depth and giving the women a chance to validate their early-season form, today’s races should give Georgetown a good opportunity to keep its eyes on the prize.