With the Big East Championships on the horizon, Georgetown’s track and field team is poised for a breakout meet. So far, this season’s races have all been in preparation for the beginning of the postseason with this weekend’s Big East Championship in Akron, Ohio.
The indoor team is led by senior All-American Chris Kinney, who cemented his Hoya legacy by setting a school record in the 60 m hurdle on Feb. 5. The record-breaking performance came in the New Balance Collegiate Invitational, besting the mark he had set one week prior. It is safe to assume a high finish for Kinney this weekend, a sentiment reflected by Director of Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Patrick Henner.
“Obviously, we think Chris has a great chance to win the Big East title,” the second-year head coach said.
Given his past success, including his victory in last year’s Big East Championship, Kinney has great expectations, but he knows he will go out and run as confidently as he has for the duration of his career as a Hoya.
“I know what I can do and my body’s capabilities,” he said. If I go out and run how I practiced I will be successful every time.”
Aside from Kinney, the men’s side is led by another pair of seniors, sprinter Toby Ulm and middle distance runner Ayalew Taye.
The women’s side is led by sophomore All-American Rachel Schneider, who in her short time on the Hilltop has quickly asserted herself as one of the country’s best middle distance runners. This weekend, she will likely compete in the mile race and anchor the Distance Medley Relay team for the second straight season.
Henner acknowledged that the Hoyas are a very young group, aside from their upperclassmen leaders. Their hopes during this postseason are diminished by the team redshirting junior middle distance runner Emily Infield and graduate student Renee Tomlin. Still, their group has a lot of promise, including middle distance freshmen Chelsea Cox and Emily Menges.
“Across the board, both sides are very young,” Henner said.“We want to go in and compete hard to build a platform to get a lot better over the next year. Except for a few areas, obviously Chris and Rachel being a couple, we are very young.”
Despite their youth, the Hoyas face the daunting task of performing in the Big East, one of the toughest collegiate conferences in the country for track and field.
“We’re the biggest conference in the country. More and more across the board, it is one of the top conferences in the country,” Henner said. “To be competitive for a Big East title, you really have to be one of the best athletes in the country in that event area.”
In order to succeed in the unforgiving conference, much of the emphasis for the Hoyas this season has been on building on their past successes, with the hopes that their hard work will culminate in success this weekend as well as at the upcoming National Championship.
Kinney speaks for many of the seniors with his candid sentiments regarding the beginning of the end of his collegiate career.
“I remember being an underclassman and making fun of the seniors for being old all the time,” he said. “Now I’m the old head and will miss competing on the college circuit wearing Georgetown on my back.”
At the very least, the rest of the Hoyas hope they can help this year’s seniors go out riding that ever-important wave of momentum, a goal Schneider feels they are ready to achieve.
“I know everyone’s ready to step up and compete this weekend, and I’m really excited to be a part of it,” she said.