Track & Field | Hoyas Prepare for Penn State National Invitational

The No. 23 Georgetown men’s and No. 10 women’s indoor track and field teams will travel to State College, Pa. on Jan. 29 for the second time this month to compete in the Penn State National Invitational. Both squads will look to build on their early season success at their previous meet, the Penn State Nittany Lion Challenge, which was held Jan. 16.

At the Nittany Lion Challenge, sophomore middle-distance runner Joe White ran a personal record of 2:23.24 in the 1000-meter race, earning third place overall in the event. White was closely followed by promising freshman Spencer Brown, who captured fourth place in the 1000m race with a time of 2:23.27. Both Brown and White will look to duplicate their strong performances this weekend in Pennsylvania.

Graduate student distance runner John Murray showed his skill in the men’s mile event, placing third overall with a time of 4:08.67, and senior middle-distance runner Ahmed Bile ran a 1:19.21 in the men’s 600m race, which qualified him for third place. Bile led the way for the Hoyas in the event, as six Hoyas placed in the top 10 for the 600m race. Graduate student middle-distance runner Cole Williams tailed Bile, finishing in fourth place with a time of 1:19.76. Senior Andrew Ogle (1:20.87), junior Amos Bartelsmeyer (1:21.05), senior Darren Fahy (1:21.76) and senior Michael Lederhouse (1:22.77) crossed the finish line sixth, eighth, ninth and 10th respectively.

The women’s team had success in the meet as well, with graduate student middle-distance runner Andrea Keklak earning first place and setting a school record in the women’s 1000m race with a time of 2:42.76. The All-American athlete’s time is currently the best of any runner in the Big East. Graduate student distance runner Katrina Coogan followed close behind with a time of 2:44.76, good enough for fifth place.

Keklak returned this past cross country season from a devastating injury that sidelined her for the 2015 indoor and outdoor track and field seasons. Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Michael Smith and Keklak’s teammates will be hoping for her to replicate her dominant performance this weekend.

“When you coach you are rewarded with incredible feelings of satisfaction,” Smith said. “[Keklak] is someone who is very committed and very driven, but she was hurt last year and missed an entire year. Having to sit at home when your team travels and competes, it’s really hard. Fast forward to now, and she ran great cross country for us and now she’s writing history with that run. I’m just so happy for her. And that is not about me. I’m just so happy for her because she went through a lot.”

Sophomore middle distance/distance runner Kennedy Weisner won the women’s 3000m race, running a time of 9:30.20. Weisner led the remaining Hoyas in the same race, placing in the top five. Sophomore middle-distance/distance runner Piper Donaghu placed third overall, crossing the finish line in 9:35.80. She was followed by senior distance runner Sarah Cotton, who placed fifth with a 9:44.09.

In the women’s 600m race, junior middle-distance runner Emma Keenan finished second with 1:31.64 to add to the Hoyas’ success thus far. Freshman Audrey Belf continued to impress after a strong cross country season as she placed second in the women’s mile with a 4:46.26.

Smith lauded Belf’s effort in the race.

“We are really pleased with her progress this early because she is actually training for 3000 and 5000m races, but competing at a very high level in the mile,” Smith said. “That is a good sign that your speed is in a good place and you are going to move up well.”

This weekend at the Penn State National Invitational, the Hoyas will compete against 37 other teams in a variety of events spanning the two-day meet. Georgetown is the only school participating in the meet that boasts national rankings on both its women’s and men’s teams; however, the hosting Nittany Lions are ranked No. 21 on the men’s side and the invitational will feature a range of top teams and athletes.

Smith said that the team will continue to raise the bar and competition level, particularly in distance medley relays.

“That is a hallmark event for us here at Georgetown, and we are very focused at competing at the national level at that event,” he said. “After that relay, we will look for people working on being competitive. When we are still in January, we should be working on honing our competitive instincts and working and competing well.”

After the Penn State National Invitational, both teams will travel to the Boston University Scarlet and White Invitational meet in Boston and the Villanova Open Ocean Breeze in Staten Island, N.Y. on Feb. 6.

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