After missing most of last season because of a sports hernia, senior distance runner Mark Dennin, has recovered and returned to the Georgetown men’s cross country team. Dennin, a key component of the 2009-2010 team, hopes to be back to full health this season as the No. 22 Hoyas compete with a stacked Big East field that includes five other ranked teams.
Dennin has been one of the Hoyas most successful runners in recent years, snatching eighth place at the Big East Tournament two years ago and fifth overall at the Atlantic Regional meet. With the fastest timed 5000-meter race on the team (14:10.04), Dennin will play a big part in any success the Hoyas have this season.
“If we look at our whole roster, he is our best returning runner to our team,” head coach Patrick Henner said. “In my coaching experience, if people go through [a sports hernia injury] and come back, they come back at an even higher level than before.”
This leadership role is nothing new to Dennin. He was one of the top distance runners in Pennsylvania in high school before he came to Georgetown. However, Dennin acknowledges that he has changed as a runner during his time on the Hilltop.
“I think I’ve matured a lot,” he said. “I’ve become a lot better at taking each race and making it kind of races within races. I’ve become a lot less nervous about everything going perfectly. “
Aside from his extraordinary determination in returning from injury, Henner said consistency, drive, and dedication within the races have helped Dennin stand out among some of the best distance runners in the country.
“I want to race at a pretty high level and make every race count,” Dennin said. “I want to have a good race every time I go out. In that respect, I want to keep on building better and race better.”
Henner hopes that the consistent effort Dennin puts into his training and racing will help this season be his most successful as a Hoya.
“I think that the biggest thing is racing consistently well,” Henner said. “I think that this is a true team sport, and I think that [he will] be as strong of a contributor to the team’s success as possible. If he does that I think he will find individual success, as well.”
Dennin says the main lesson he’s learned at Georgetown is to take on whatever challenge is thrown at him.
“I’ve learned to roll with the punches,” he said. “The best I can do is give 100 percent and stay focused.”