At a hot and humid Paul Short Invitational, both the No. 20 men’s and No. 6 women’s cross country teams outlasted the sun and an array of strong teams to earn top finishes. In a field of 47 teams, the women took first place while the men finished third.
Unseasonably high temperatures defined the meet, with conditions that reached up into the mid-80s accentuated by humidity and late start times for both teams. The 11 a.m. start time for the men and 11:45 a.m. time for the women provided an environment significantly different from what the teams experience in their morning practices.
“It was a little bit of a shock to the guys’ system,” men’s Head Coach Brandon Bonsey said. “I can’t remember ever having a race this hot, and the races were too late in the day.”
According to Bonsey, by the time the men’s race began, the meet had already run out of ice, as officials and local health personnel were faced with high levels of heat-related injuries. Ultimately, race officials cancelled the entire highschool portion of the meet that was scheduled to follow the college races. Although Georgetown athletes avoided serious injury, the heat did cause difficulties that were reflected in the results for the men.
“Our plan was to go out hard,” Bonsey said. “But given the heat, we backed off.”
Despite these drawbacks, the Hoyas still got off to a strong start, controlling the race for most of its duration. But as the finish line approached, the effects of the heat began to show.
“With one [kilometer] to go, we were dominating, we were in a position to win,” Bonsey said. “I just think a few guys, in the heat, lost their composure.”
The result was a slip from a possible win to a third-place finish, a 110-point total putting the squad behind Dartmouth, with 106, and Indiana, who won the meet with 89. But the meet still provided a valuable chance to assess the team against skilled teams, and several athletes excelled in the 8-kilometer race after a three-week break in competition, including graduate student Andrew Springer and senior Brian King, both of whom finished in the top 10 with times of 23:52 and 24:12, respectively.
“I’m still very optimistic this season,” Bonsey said. “I would have loved to have won, but I still think this meet served its purpose and sets us up well.”
The women’s squad overcame the heat, winning their second straight meet.
“We had a couple people really affected by the heat,” women’s Head Coach Michael Smith said. “Our team was good enough where we still were able to win.”
The success on the women’s side was highlighted by the season debut of four runners who did not compete in the team’s first meet. Two of them, sophomore Samantha Nadel and graduate student Rachel Schneider, were the team’s top finishers, with times of 20:40 and 20:43, earning them 11th and 13th place finishes, respectively.
“Now our top two finishers have been four different people, put all that together and that’s going to be hard to deal with,” Smith said.
Junior Kelsey Smith also ran a successful race, and her 21:05 time was low enough for her to score her first points for Georgetown.
“We’re going to get tested now,” Smith said. “[By] some of the best teams in the country.”
The women will travel to Terre Haute, Ind., for the Pre-NCAA meet on Oct 19. The men next run Oct. 12 at the Blue-Gold Invitational in Newark, Del.