Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

TRACK AND FIELD | Women’s DMR Team Shines With 5th Place Finish at Indoor NCAA Championships

The Georgetown women’s distance medley relay (DMR) team and senior Matt Rizzo, who competed in the men’s mile, represented the Hoyas at the NCAA Indoor Championship on March 10-11, earning fifth and 13th place, respectively, in a competitive field. 

To simply qualify for the meet was a feat in itself, according to Alton McKenzie, Georgetown’s director of track and field and cross-country. Only the top 16 individuals and 12 relay teams across the nation earned the chance to compete at the national championship, which was held in Albuquerque, N.M. 

“I think it’s one of the toughest NCAA championships to qualify for,” McKenzie told The Hoya. “So to have representation at all at this meet is definitely something that we’re extremely proud of.”

Sophomore Melissa Riggins said competing as a member of the DMR team was the best way to enter her first NCAA final.

“I could lean on my teammates when I was nervous or scared,” Riggins told The Hoya. “Mostly I was just extremely honored to be a part of it and have my coach and teammates put their trust in me.”

The women’s relay squad — consisting of graduate Grace Jensen, senior Maya Drayton, graduate Katy-Ann McDonald and Riggins — qualified for the event at the Feb. 18 Alex Wilson Invitational with a school record time of 10:54.18. The squad became the first Georgetown DMR team to qualify since 2016, the year Georgetown brought home the national title in the event. 

Rizzo recorded his qualifying time at the Jan. 27 John Terrier Classic with a blistering mile time of 3:56.20, the second fastest in Georgetown history.

All five athletes entered the championship coming off of strong performances at the Feb. 24-25 Big East Indoor Championships, each earning spaces on the podium and Riggins being recognized as the Women’s Most Outstanding Performer in Track Events. 

The DMR team toed the line as the No. 11 seed, but McKenzie said he felt confident his team was ready to compete for first-team All-American Honors, a distinction reserved for the top eight teams nationally.

GUHoyas | The Georgetown women’s DMR team placed fifth in the nation at the Indoor NCAA Championships.

Jensen, Drayton, McDonald and Riggins ran the 1200-meter, 400, 800 and 1600 legs of the DMR with respective splits of 3:24.65, 54.84, 2:04.06 and 4:38.50 to post an overall time of 11:02.41 at high altitude. Georgetown spent most of the race toward the front of a large chase pack in pursuit of the Stanford Cardinal and the UCLA Bruins, who had established an early lead in the opening leg. The Hoya quartet ultimately finished just six seconds behind the winning Stanford Cardinal, clinching a fifth-place finish and first-team All-American Honors.

“They competed exceptionally well,” McKenzie said. “It’s good when that happens — when the expectations match what the performances are.”

Riggins said she was very proud of her teammates. 

“All I could ever ask of myself and my teammates is that we give it our all on the day, and we did that,” Riggins told The Hoya. “I tried to lean into the pain in the back half of the race and use my teammates as motivation. It feels good to be an All-American!”

In the individual events, Rizzo ran a time of 4:10.64 in the first of the two men’s mile heats, finishing sixth out of eight in his heat and 13th overall. His efforts were insufficient to advance, though, as only the first four athletes in each heat and the next two fastest athletes on time qualified for the final. 

Rizzo said he was disappointed that he did not make the final.

“I made some tactical errors that I shouldn’t have made,” Rizzo told The Hoya. “Still, I’m happy with the fact that I gave it everything I had.”

Through much of the race, the entire field remained in a tight pack, with no one making a decisive move until there was just 600 meters to go, which, according to McKenzie, did not work toward Rizzo’s advantage.

“Matt got caught in a tough position,” McKenzie said. “When you run the mile, sometimes it gets tactical and unfortunately he was in a heat where no one wanted to lead.” 

“Sometimes that happens in a qualifying round where you try to go with how the race is going to materialize, but you don’t get to decide sometimes how that is going to go,” McKenzie added. “So he competed very well.”

Rizzo earned second-team All-American Honors for his performance.

“Even though I left Albuquerque without gaining first-team All-American status, I gained confidence that I can compete with the best the NCAA has to offer in the mile,” Rizzo said.

The championship marked the conclusion of the Hoyas’ successful indoor season as the squad now turns its focus outdoors, starting with the Fred Hardy Invitational on March 17, which will be hosted by the University of Richmond.

The outdoor season is the team’s priority on the calendar, McKenzie said. 

“My approach has always been that indoors is preparation for outdoor,” McKenzie told The Hoya.

The outdoor season will be headlined by the April 27-29 Penn Relays, the May 12-13 Big East Outdoor Championships and, finally, the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

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