This past weekend the Georgetown women’s cross country team ran to a gritty fifth-place finish at the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University. The Hoyas’ depth was key to the 159-point total, only 43 points behind Penn State, the meet champion.

Coming off two first-place finishes in the Mount Saint ary’s Invitational and Cowboy Jamboree, the Hoyas continue to dominate their early-season schedule. In a race between 39 schools, junior Carly Nuzbach led the Hoyas, finishing in 18th place with a time of 21:50.08. Finishing close behind, sophomore Rose Wetzel raced to a time of 21:55.04. Sophomore Treniere Clement and junior Allison Snyder also posted notable performances, both finishing within the top 40.

The Hoyas proved they can succeed without the efforts of their top squad. The team sent its B-squad to the meet for developmental purposes, but as Director of Cross Country and Head Coach Ron Helmer said, “They are very good athletes. With a little bit of luck, we would have challenged for the win.” Coach Helmer’s plan for the women’s team at this point in the season is to strengthen the B-team by pitting those runners against the best national cross country programs. “The reason we’re deep is because we develop people by putting them in meaningful races. We take our B-team to face the difficult competition,” he added.

Competing in the open race, freshman runner Lauren Graham said, “I think competing in big races and running cross country for the first time will help me as a runner to gain confidence and, most importantly, experience.”

The best runners don’t race at every meet. In fact, the team’s top seven runners, who rested this past Saturday, will race together for the first time this upcoming weekend at the Pre-Nationals Meet. According to the coach, the Hoyas have performed up to expectations so far in their season and appear headed on a successful path to the ultimate goal, a chance to win at the National Championship Meet.

Coach Helmer expects both the men’s and women’s teams to “confuse and depress” the NCAA with their skill when they compete this weekend. The men’s team, ranked 22nd in the nation, will be racing for the first time in two weeks. Although both teams have high rankings, their top squads have not raced as a single unit. Therefore, running a full-strength Hoya team will certainly give Georgetown the opportunity to make a jump in the national rankings.

The upcoming meet will also familiarize the team with an important course. The Pre-Nationals Meet will be held at Greenville, S.C., the same course where the NCAA Championship Meet takes place in late November.

The Pre-Nationals will serve as the mid-season indicator of the effectiveness of the program’s strategy. Building confidence and gaining experience seem to be the fruits of the grand plan. As freshman B-team runner Morgan Soule said, “Running and training with good athletes on such a high level of competition raises my standards and supplies the confidence I need to compete in big races.”

Stressing the true goal of the season for his team, Coach Helmer added, “The focus is putting together a group that can compete against the country.”

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