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

Women Fall Short of Title, Mitchell Sprints to First

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Junior sprinter Kenny Mitchell

NEW YORK – While the Big East women’s indoor track and field championship was a two-day battle between the defending champion Georgetown and first-time challenger UConn, one would never have known it by watching any single event. With Georgetown’s strength in the mid- to long-distance events and Connecticut’s in the sprints and field events, the real race took place on the scoreboard, where the teams’ point totals were totaled after each event.

While the teams swapped points in their respective events, the score was relatively even after 15 of the 20 events were done, with the Huskies leading 71.5-70. As the scores from the high jump and shot put were tallied, all eyes were glued to the numbers, waiting to see if the gap would stay close enough for Georgetown to make a final run in such events as the 3000 meters and 4×800 m. However, the Huskies picked up 21 points between those two, putting the Hoyas in an improbable hole. While Georgetown would go on to score 20, the Huskies did enough to hold them off and secured their first Big East indoor championship.

“In the women’s side, we had a chance to win the meet,” Head Coach Pat Henner said, “but we just gave up too many points in the 500, 800 and 1000, and that basically was the difference in the meet. Once again, we still competed well, and second is not a bad thing, but it would have been nice to win.”

Senior Joanna Rodgers did all she could to help the Hoyas’ chances at the championship, posting solid performances over both days. First, in the distance medley relay, Rodgers split a 2:09 on the 800m leg, bringing the Hoyas from a distant fourth to second. Fellow senior Liz Maloy took the baton, ran a strong 1600 to close a 20m gap on Villanova but came up just short down the final stretch to West Virginia. Rodgers would then go on the next day to anchor the run away first-place 4x800m relay team of junior Avril Ogrodnick, sophomore Renee Tomlin and junior Maggie Infeld.

However, it was Rodgers’ performance in the 1600m that may have been most inspiring. Early on in the race Rodgers did not press, content to stay in good position right behind the leaders, which included Maloy and sophomore Lauren Gregory. With Maloy trying to run down a streaking Cassie Peller of Marquette in the final lap, Rodgers went with the pair and made a decisive move with 50m left, swinging wide around the final turn and kicking down Peller for the win in 4:50.19. Maloy and Gregory would finish third and fourth, respectively.

“With 200 to go, I kind of went for it. I really wanted to have the win, so I gave it my all that last 100 meters and hoped for the best,” Rodgers said.

Juniors Melissa Grelli and Lise Ogrodnick combined to turn in a strong showing for the Hoyas in both the 3000m and 5000m. In the 5000m, it was all Grelli, as she pulled away from the rest of the field a little before halfway through the race and continued to build her lead en route to an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 16:05.98, the fourth-best time in the nation. Ogrodnick ran a nearly perfect tactical race, moving up in the field, especially over the last 3200m, to take third with an NCAA provisional time of 16:31.76 that stands in the top 15 times this year. Coming back the next day, Grelli and Ogrodnick both ran solid races in the 3000m to turn in NCAA provisional times and take third and fifth, respectively.

“There’s been some really great individual performances, and it’s only a testament to how much we’ve been training and how committed everybody is to upholding Georgetown’s strong running tradition,” Grelli said of Ogrodnick and her teammates’ performances.

In the middle-distance events, the Hoyas ran strong but didn’t pick up quite as many points as they hoped. Infeld and Avril Ogrodnick took fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 1000m, and senior Ashley Hubbard and Tomlin took third and fifth, respectively, in the 800m.

On the men’s side, the Hoyas faced the same predicament as the women, posting many impressive races but failing to stack up enough points to overcome first-place UConn and second-place Notre Dame.

Junior Kenny Mitchell took home the only individual win for the Hoyas in the 60m, coming off the blocks quickly to post a NCAA provisional mark with 6.73 seconds, only .02 seconds off the meet record.

“I decided to execute in the 60 and do what I had to do. Coach said I was the guy to beat – I came in number one and the hard part is getting it done. After that it speaks for itself,” Mitchell said.

He would come back in the 200m to take third, teaming with freshman Spenser Carter, who took fifth and also placed third in the 60m with Mitchell. Mitchell and Carter’s strong performances were a promising sign for the Hoyas, who have been missing legitimate threats in the sprints in recent years.

Adding to a previously weak area was freshman Chris Kinney, who turned in a solid performance in the 60m to take third.

In the 5000m, sophomore Levi Miller hung tough with Notre Dame’s Patrick Smyth, who made a move on the rest of the pack with a little more than 1000m to go. Although Smyth would go on to win, Miller’s gutsy efforts earned him a 14:08.36 NCAA provisional time. Senior Dan Nunn moved up late in the race to secure fourth for the Hoyas as well.

Sophomore Andrew Bumbalough and senior Matt Debole turned in more-than-impressive performances, combining to help contribute 40 of the Hoyas’ 107 points. Bumbalough came up just short down the final straightaway in both the mile and 3000m, taking second in both. In the mile, junior Mike Banks took fifth as well. For Debole, it was the same in the 1000m, running out of track on his kick, and falling just short for second. Senior Neil Grosscup added some more points for the Hoyas in the 1000m, finishing strong to take fourth. Adding to the Hoyas’ list of runner-up finishes was the gritty-running 4x800m relay team of sophomore Alex Bean, Banks, Grosscup and Debole.

Saturday’s distance medley relay was one to go down in the Big East history books. To start, Bumbalough ran a tough 1200m that Villanova nearly matched, staying a step or two behind. In the 400m, freshman Sean Suber stepped up big, turning in a great 400m to keep the lead for the Hoyas. Knowing that the dangerous Bobby Curtis was anchoring ‘Nova’s squad, Banks did all he could in the 800m, pounding down the stretch to give the Hoyas a lead of a few meters, yet Curtis roared back, taking the lead for ‘Nova 400m into the 1600m leg. Debole would not quit, matching Curtis stride-for-stride until the last 200m, where Curtis’ speed was too much, denying Debole in the last 200m.

When all was said and done, both teams had shattered the meet record, both had posted NCAA automatic times and both stood within the top three times in the country.

Instead of running a more conservative tactical race for place, both ‘Nova and the Hoyas decided beforehand to help each other run the automatic time by pushing themselves.

“It’s a friendly rivalry, and Georgetown has an awesome team this year, and we have a pretty good team, so I think it was good for both of us to go out there and get that auto time,” ‘Nova’s Curtis said.

While the Hoyas may not have won it all here, they appear right where they need to be for nationals and the outdoor season.

“The thing is, I just don’t want anybody thinking like anything is done at this point,” Henner said. “This is just a starting point really for getting ready for outdoor track and field. As long as we take that attitude, then we’re going to have a really good outdoor season.”

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