Women’s and Men’s Cross Country competed in Stillwater, Oklahoma on Monday in the NCAA championships, overcoming the challenges of a pandemic shortened season and a postponement from the fall with strong, program-building races.
The Georgetown Women’s Cross Country team followed up its Big East Championship victory with an 18th place finish out of 31 teams at the 2020* NCAA Championships, tackling a challenging 6K course at Oklahoma State. Sophomore Maggie Donahue led the Hoyas with a 32nd-place finish and an All-American performance. The championships had been moved to the spring because of health and financial reasons.
Assistant Coach Mitchell Baker was thrilled with the performance.
“Maggie Donahue was sensational – she showed great tenacity and self-belief to stick in the mix of All-Americans for the entire race and walk away with that recognition,” reflected Baker. “She was our ninth runner on the team last year at the BIG EAST’s placing 33rd overall, and today she finished 32nd in the NCAA! Absolutely fantastic growth, well earned, and a great sign for the program.”
Junior Sami Corman and senior Baylee Jones were the next highest finishers for the Hoyas at 89th and 138th respectively.
Baker also spoke in glowing terms about Jones’ season. “[She] has time-and-again proven her ability to close in the final third, and today was no exception, passing nearly 40 in the final 1k to score third for us. We don’t win the BIG EAST or leap into the top-20 at the NCAA meet without her ability to wind it up at the end.”
That ability to step up in the final stages was critical, as the Hoya women moved up 65 points over the last 1K, helping Georgetown move from 21st to 18th place over the final stretch. Jones passed a whopping 44 runners over the last 2K. Juniors Alyssa Aldridge and Katie Dammer rounded out the scoring for the Hoyas, finishing 165th and 191st. The race was Dammer’s first NCAA championship, a tremendous improvement from having missed postseason competition in 2019. Freshman Mary Hennelly broke a tie with Indiana, edging the Hoyas over the Hoosiers to secure a top 20 finish in their first NCAA Championship appearance since 2015. The Hoyas were the only Big East team to qualify for nationals. Altogether, the Hoyas scored a total of 494 points.
“All in all, a fantastic step forward for the group to race to 18th overall in the NCAA after five years away from this stage,” said Baker. “Today they ran for each other for sure, but just as much for those back on campus, those that fought the last several years to bring the program back to national prominence, and the decades of alumni that have shown us what’s possible.”
Director Of Track & Field/Cross Country Alton McKenzie credited the team’s effort: “I’m very proud of the effort from our women today. Unbelievably exciting to see us back at the NCAA Championships and finishing 18th speaks volumes for the type of season that they’ve had. I’m really excited also, for a tremendous performance from Maggie Donahue, to finish 32nd and secure All-American status.”
Georgetown men’s cross country built on their runner-up performance at the Big East Championships with a 22nd place finish nationally, led by sophomore Parker Stokes and freshman Shea Weilbaker. Stokes was the 10th best finisher in his class. Stokes and Weilbaker finished 74th and 111th respectively.
“On an individual level if anyone knew Parker Stokes’ backstory the last seven weeks they would know that what he did today was nothing short of spectacular,” Head Men’s Cross Country Coach Brandon Bonsey insisted.
Graduate Student Jack Salisbury, competing in his first national championship 10K, followed the underclassmen in 129th place. Sophomores Camden Gilmore and Quinn Nicholson rounded out the Hoyas’ performance, finishing in 143rd and 160th place respectively. Scoring a total of 528 points, Georgetown finished 56 points behind their next closest competitor, the University of Portland, and only a few more points behind conference rival Villanova.
“A very strong effort on a very tough course. Finishing 22nd is definitely a place we’re proud of and are very pleased with. Coach Bonsey and Coach Mitchell did a great job preparing their athletes––this should prepare us well for the track & field season,” noted McKenzie.
The Hoya men improved upon their 28th-place performance in 2019 and have built momentum heading into the spring campaign. With five of their top seven runners being underclassmen, the future appears bright for Hoyas cross country. Bonsey was encouraged by the effort given the challenging circumstances. The Hoyas only had raced two prior times this year in a season that began on January 23, lasting just over seven weeks, cutting the traditional training period roughly in half.
“Our preparation was less than ideal, but the team didn’t use that as an excuse. I’ve been around great teams and I know this group has the potential to be one of the very best teams in the NCAA very soon. We have much higher aspirations than 22nd-place but in this strange last year we’ve had I will take that result.”
The encouraging finishes for both squads cap off a shortened NCAA cross country season due to Covid-19, which overlapped with the Indoor Track season, forcing many coaches to place all of their eggs in one basket regarding the two sports. Without enough turnaround time between both championship events, programs were forced to either race their distance athletes on tired legs or elect to opt out of one season altogether. Notably absent from the men’s side was powerhouse Oregon, whose efforts earned them the national title in Indoor Track and Field just a few days ago. While some teams opted for indoor track, Hoyas opted for cross country. That singular focus paid off on Monday.
“Today was a true team effort not just from the seven that raced, and our alternate, but also the rest of the team back home, the sports medical team, the strength and conditioning staff, and the equipment staff” said Baker.
“But above all I am proud of how these seven racers represented each other and the University; they believed in themselves and the plan for today, and they have been locked in on growing from each experience these last six weeks, our first together since last March.”
The Hoyas will look to build on this impressive championship performance as they move into the Outdoor Track and Field season, with both teams opening their schedule at the Raleigh Relays on March 25th at NC State. Results will be available on guhoyas.com. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for coverage of all Hilltop sports.
Georgetown Women’s Results (18th of 31, 494 points)
32. Maggie Donahue 20:51.0 (26)
89. Sami Corman 21:27.0 (71)
138. Baylee Jones 21:45.9 (108)
165. Alyssa Aldridge 22:00.4 (132)
191. Katie Dammer 22:19.7 (157)
225. Mary Hennelly 22:48.4 (188)
229. Maegan Doody 22:52.5 (192)
Georgetown Men’s Results (22nd of 30, 528 points)
74. Parker Stokes 31:12.8 (62)
111. Shea Weilbaker 31:37.2 (95)
129. Jack Salisbury 31:56.9 (112)
143. Camden Gilmore 32:08.1(123)
160. Quinn Nicholson 32:19.9 (136)
219. Jantz Tostenson 33:21.1 (185)
Matthew Payamps (DNF)