TRACK AND FIELD | Team Splits for Nationals
Published: Friday, January 31, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 00:01
Georgetown’s track and field team will participate this weekend in the National Invitational Tournament hosted by Penn State in State College, Pa, as well as the Patriot Games hosted by George Mason in Fairfax, Va. The National Invitational Accepted Entries were released this past Tuesday. Of the 52 events, the Hoyas qualified for the majority, including 35 individual qualifications and eight relay qualifications, as well as one jump representative. The large Georgetown presence should lead to a strong showing in the meet.
In addition to the overwhelming number of Hoya participants invited to the meet, Georgetown also has eight athletes in the number one spot including senior Eghosa Aghayere in the men’s triple jump and senior Hansel Akers in the men’s 500-meter dash. Though Aghayere is Georgetown’s only jumper, he is at the top of the field, so success should not be hard to find. As for the running events, the large pool of Georgetown athletes will inevitably end in many top-ranked finishes, especially in the team’s strongest area — middle distance.
“All of our athletes are running well at this point,” Track and Field Director Pat Henner said. “Penn State has been great to us, they are one of the country’s best indoor tracks and we’re looking forward to it.”
While Georgetown hopes to put up quality times and finish at the top of each event, the competition that the team will face is impressive. Take, for example, the host of the meet: Penn State. The Nittany Lions men’s team was recently ranked seventh in the first official rankings released by the USTFCCCA.
“Penn State has a great all-around team and there’s going to be a lot of other great teams there,” Henner said. “Teams like Stanford and Iowa State are coming so this is a great opportunity to go on a fast indoor track with great competition.”
The last time the Hoyas and the Nittany Lions met — three weeks ago at the Father Diamond Invitational — the Nittany Lions finished ahead of the Hoyas on numerous occasions. Georgetown and Penn State’s head-to-head matchups are always tough to predict because both teams have strong middle-distance runners. While the Blue and Gray came up short last time, they hope to change the scene this weekend.
Though the opponents will be tough matchups, the Hoyas are coming off an exceptional meet in which the team had 13 first-place finishers at the fourth annual Hoya Spiked Shoe Club Invitational. Although Penn State and other attendees are more challenging opponents than who Georgetown faced last week, confidence is sure to carry over to the National Invitational.
The team will split up this weekend; with almost half the runners will attend the National Invitational while the others will attend the Patriot Games. The Patriot Games are a great opportunity for Georgetown to gain experience early on in the season. Though some of the top-ranked runners will not be there, the less-experienced runners will be given a chance to perform in the spotlight.
“It’s something where we have some athletes that are trying to qualify for NCAA [championships] and score points at the Big East meet,” Henner said. ”I think all these meets will serve us well.”
Meets such as the Patriot Games are invaluable to a young team like Georgetown and will be sure to help runners. When the Hoyas last matched up against George Mason three weekends ago in the Father Diamond Invitational, they fared very well, grabbing seven first-place finishes. The team looks to continue this streak against the Patriots and gain not only top finishes, but experience.
It is still early in the season, but the Georgetown’s women’s team is ranked 20th in the country. With two runners already named Big East Athlete of the Week, the season is off to a flying start. As the athletes split this weekend, the team hopes to reconvene with an abundance of top three finishes.
“Both our men and women’s distance medley relay squads have a great opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships this weekend” Henner said. “I think that in the mile, the 800 and the 3000, we have some outstanding athletes that will really compete well with the top-ranked schools.”
With a chance to qualify for championships, as well as a great opportunity to upset top teams, Georgetown will set the bar high this weekend. One great weekend of racing would not only set the tone for the season, but also leave the Hoyas in position to make some noise in later, more important meets this season.