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

With an Unblemished Record, GU Focus Will Be on Execution

Image Contributor
Senior Andrew Bumbalough

This weekend, the NCAA National Cross Country Championship will be vastly different from any race Georgetown’s men’s cross country team has run so far this season. As the nation’s top 31 teams toe the line, the Hoyas will not be able to dictate the race pace as they have all season. Instead they will be dispersed amongst the other 248 elite runners from around the nation. While the race may by different from the Hoyas’ point of view, the mindset will remain the same: control your own race.

Since Georgetown has won both the individual and team titles in every meet thus far this fall, one would be hard pressed to argue with the team’s logic. The squad took home all the honors during the regular season, winning both the JMU Open and the Penn State Invitational. Moving into the postseason, the Blue and Gray have not missed a beat, taking home individual and team championships at both the Big East and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship. Why change now?

“We have to approach it with the same kind of mental attitude, the same preparation that we’ve been doing,” redshirt junior Levi Miller said. “We’re not changing the way we’re going to race. We’re going to keep on executing the same way that’s been working for us all season.”

In such a talented field at Nationals, runners sometimes have a tendency to get lost in the crowd, overwhelmed by the extremely high level of competition. However, by focusing solely on their individual race plans, Head Coach Pat Henner knows that his runners will not fall victim to the high level of competition.

“I’m very very confident that we’re going to go out and do a good job no matter what. You know you can’t really control what the other teams do, but we do have control over our races, and I think if we just focus on the fact that `Hey, we know we can do a good job,’ then a couple of them can have outstanding races,” Henner said.

While they have been stressing the consistency of their race plans heading into Nationals, the team is quick to mention that they are completely different than Georgetown’s past two teams, which had disappointing team finishes at Nationals.

“It’s a totally different dynamic from the way that the team used to be and just the way that we approach races. I think this year we’ve just been going in with a little bit of a swagger, and just knowing that we’re good and not really worrying about the specifics, [but] just trying to execute,” redshirt junior Andrew Bumbalough said, who led the Hoyas a year ago as an all-American, finishing 22nd.

Added Henner: “I think it’s the most focused, relaxed team that I’ve ever had at Georgetown.”

While the national title looks to be a battle between reining-champs Oregon and up-and-coming Oklahoma State, the picture is less clear after the fact that. No. 3 Stanford and No. 6 Portland both looked strong at the West Regional with Oregon, but Portland’s fourth and fifth runners could be stronger. Perenial power No. 4 Wisconsin is under a first-year head coach, and it remains to be seen if three-time cross country all-American Matt Withrow will return to form. No. 5 Alabama recently dethroned Arkansas in the SEC, and No. 7 Iona was runner-up a year ago.

Bumbalough, who has won all three of his races this season, leads the eighth-ranked Hoyas’ legitimate chances of being a top-10 or even top-five team. Following Bumbalough are Miller and sophomore Ayalew Taye.

“I just feel like I am above and beyond more prepared this year. Mentally and physically I know I’m going to have a great race. I know I’m in great shape, the best shape I’ve ever been in for this situation,” Miller said.

Bringing valuable depth to the squad are seniors Justin Scheid and Mike Banks and redshirt junior Mike Krisch, all of whom are not far behind Miller and Taye. Scheid and Krisch had solid races at Nationals a year ago, while Banks has fully recovered from a sports hernia suffered the summer before last fall.

The Hoyas depth plays largely in their favor, as was evident last week when Scheid was slightly off, but the team did not miss any points with a strong run by Banks. Freshman Jimmy Grimes rounds out the top seven for the final race of the year.

The race is set for Monday in Terre Haute, Ind.


On the women’s side, the Hoyas are coming into Nationals way under the radar. While having put together a strong campaign to date, they have largely been running in the shadow of No. 5 West Virginia and No. 7 Villanova, both of whom are in the Hoyas’ conference and region, and No. 4 Princeton, which is in the Mid-Atlantic Region as well.

“We’re in an exciting spot because only people in our region and in our area know how good the Big East and the Mid-Atlantic Region are,” Head Coach Chris Miltenberg said.

With such a strong region Georgetown secured one of the at-large bids this season with an intriguing combination of youth and experience. Leading the way for the Hoyas is graduate student Liz Maloy, who was unexpectedly awarded another year of eligibility by the NCAA this fall for time she missed earlier in her career due to injuries. Maloy, the top returning finisher from Nationals a year ago, held back at Regionals a week ago and still placed a solid eighth.

Behind Maloy has been senior Natasha LaBeaud, who has bounced back nicely this season and emerged as a team leader. LaBeaud has been working all season on closing out races, and the team will look for her to come up big late, as many points can be gained or lost over the final portion of the race in such a large and talented field.

Following Maloy and LaBeaud, the Hoyas have the luxury of one of the top freshmen duos in the country in Emily Infeld and Katie McCafferty. Infeld, who likes to come back on the field the second half of the race, had a big performance last weekend, finishing second on the team behind Maloy. McCafferty had her breakout performance at the Big East race, being the first Hoya to cross the finish, but struggled early on at Regionals. If the Hoyas are to surprise this upcoming Monday, both freshmen will have to shake off the inevitable nerves and turn in solid races.

Rounding out the top seven are senior Lise Ogrodnick and juniors Renee Tomlin and Lauren Gregory. Ogrodnick, one of the more consistent contributors on last year’s team, has struggled so far this season, although the regional race was a big step in the right direction. Tomlin and Gregory provide quality depth in that there will not be too large of a drop off should anybody go down.

The 17th-ranked Hoyas are looking to improve upon a disappointing 28th-place finish from a year ago by surprising all those who have focused on the Hoyas’ strong competition all year long.

“Nobody’s really looking to us and what we’re going to do out there … but we know that we’re pretty darn good, that we’ve raced against some of the best teams in the country the past two times out,” Miltenberg said.

Added Maloy: “No one’s really expecting much out of us at all … which I think is good for us. I think the no-pressure situation bodes well for us – all we have to do is go out there and have fun.”

More to Discover