After a long summer of hard work and preparation, the Georgetown cross country teams get their seasons running this Friday as the men compete in the Lou Onesty Open in Charlottesville, Va. The women get going the following Saturday in the Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational.
The No. 22 men’s team is looking strong heading into this Friday’s meet with the return of graduate student Ayalew Taye, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s Mid-Atlantic Region 2010 Athlete of the Year. Coach Patrick Henner knows the veteran presence of Taye and others will be crucial to the team’s success this season.
“We’ve got a much more experienced team. […] We’ve gotten much stronger,” Henner said.
Meanwhile, the women’s team will begin their quest for a national championship as they emerge from the preseason as the top-ranked team in the country for the first time in school history.
After finishing eighth overall at the NCAA Cross Country Championships her freshman year and second as a sophomore, junior Emily Infeld says she is looking forward to having the team back together.
“This summer we were on our own, but I feel like we’re all really excited this year,” Infeld said. “Everyone is just so passionate about it.”
But due to the strict training program followed by both teams, the results over the next week should not ultimately reflect the Hoyas’ end of season ambitions. By employing a “building up” strategy, the runners will aim for top-end results during the last tournaments of the fall, rather than the early competitions of the campaign.
“We have a training plan that’s going to get us ready for the big meets at the end of the year,” Henner said. “We’re not going to do anything special. The race this weekend is as much about sticking to the training plan.”
Women’s coach Chris Miltenberg agreed, believing the Hoyas’ particular approach gives them an edge heading down the homestretch of the season.
“We start our cross country training a lot later than other teams, to start building back up […] and keep building up until the end of the season,” he said.
Even after the loss of their recently graduated and hugely successful middle distance runner, Renee Tomlin, Miltenberg says he senses something special with the emergence of this team.
“It’s been really exciting to watch the team grow,” he said.
If the Hoyas can continue their progress, there’s a good chance they could be adding to the trophy cabinet come the end of the season.