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

GU Braces for Final Meet

The women’s cross country team finished 16 points behind No. 1 Villanova at the Big East Championships; two weeks later, they finished 11 points behind the Wildcats at the Mid-Atlantic regional championships. This coming Monday, at the NCAA national championships in Terre Haute, Ind., the Hoyas hope to close that gap even further, taking aim at the top team in the country and the rest of the nation’s best in the season’s most important meet.

Villanova stands above the field as the heavy favorite. The No. 1 Wildcats are the reigning national champions and have won every race since the 2008 NCAA national championships, where they finished sixth. Perennial power and last year’s runner up, No. 2 Florida State, and the 2008 National Champions, No. 4 Washington Huskies, both appear to be the strongest contenders – along with the No. 3 Hoyas – to upset the Wildcats.

“If things go perfectly, then we have a shot to win. We definitely have a shot,” women’s Head Coach Chris Miltenberg said. “But there’s probably about seven or eight teams that potentially have a shot too.”

Three teams that Miltenberg said have been overlooked are No. 5 New Mexico, No. 8 Colorado and No. 10 Texas Tech. All hailing from the Mountain Region, the three finished within six points of each other at their regional meet. No. 5 New Mexico has the strongest top five of the group; No. 8 Colorado, who is really missing sophomore standout Allie McLaughlin, have an extremely talented top four and are one runner away from being an outstanding team; and No. 10 Texas Tech brings individual contender Rose Tanui to the line.

No. 6 Oregon, with sophomore Jordan Hasay leading the way, and No. 7 Stanford, who were not that far behind the Hoyas at pre-nationals, should be right in the mix as well.

Leading the Hoyas is junior Emily Infeld, who surprised even herself with a breakout performance and eighth-place finish at last year’s NCAA Championships. She is on everyone’s radar and is expected to post another top-10 – if not top-five – finish this year. In a race where no one individual is the clear favorite, Infeld looks to be in the lead pack competing for the title.

Emily Jones, Georgetown’s other hope for a top finisher, should benefit from a large field that will give her other runners to race with over the last 1K of the course.

Who will come next for the Hoyas is anybody’s guess. Freshman Madeline Chambers has been running in the third spot for much of the season, though classmate Joanna Stevens is coming off a breakout performance at Regionals. Redshirt senior Renee Tomlin and sophomore Kirsten Kasper have both shown that they can finish with Chambers as well. Junior Katie McCafferty, who has had an up and down season in her return from injury and illness that sidelined her for nearly a year, could also find herself in the Hoyas’ top five.

Their depth is what gives the Hoyas a shot at taking down the Wildcats.

“The difference between us and them is they don’t have any margin for error,” Miltenberg said. “They have five good runners, [but] if one of them is off they are in serious trouble, whereas we have seven people ready to run great.”

On the men’s side, it’s a much different picture. Many didn’t even expect Georgetown to make the NCAA Championships given their inexperience and injury problems this season, but coming off of perhaps their best team performance of the season at Regionals, the Hoyas are poised to surprise a few teams.

“We’re just going to keep the focus on the process of racing, executing the race plan, being mentally tough, competing hard at the end,” Head Coach Pat Henner said. “With that formula we’re going to end up beating all the teams we’re supposed to beat and maybe even some of the teams we [aren’t] supposed to beat.”

While the men enter the race ranked No. 25, they could find themselves in the 15th-to-18th-place range in a best-case scenario.

Senior Ayalew Taye, running his best collegiate season, should be in contention for All-American status, which is given to the top-40 finishers overall; redshirt freshman Andrew Springer had a great race at pre-nationals and hopes to build off of his strong Regionals race; redshirt junior TC Lumbar is hoping to return to his early season form when he ran well through pre-nationals, and redshirt sophomore Mark Dennin, redshirt freshmen Bobby Peavey and Ben Furcht and redshirt junior James Grimes will round out the Hoyas top seven.

After a season of growth and learning, the inexperienced Hoyas are looking to come out of the NCAA Championships ready to improve in the indoor and outdoor track seasons.

“I think we’ve got tremendous momentum right now for our future, and that’s the biggest thing this weekend, I think, for our young guys,” Henner said. “Just to keep that momentum going.”

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