The men’s and women’s cross-country teams both had successful weekends at the Lehigh University Paul Short Run. The women, currently ranked fifth in the nation, finished second in a field of 38 teams, while the men’s team finished sixth in a field of 42.
Coming off of the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown last weekend, both teams decided to rest some runners, which may have prevented higher finishes.
Men’s Distance Coach Brandon Bonsey believes that the team benefited from managing its personnel rather than putting every runner in the race. The rest that this weekend off affords runners will pay off in postseason races.
“Obviously, if we had run everyone we would have gotten a better result, but that was not the purpose of this meet,” Men’s Distance Coach Brandon Bonsey said. ”When we get to the postseason stuff, that’s when we’ll really put everything together and start worrying about the team results.”
Despite the absence of several key contributors, the women’s team had a great outing, besting sixth-ranked Florida State. The team was led by graduate student All-American Madeline Chambers, who finished 14th overall with a time of 20:26, and junior Haley Pierce, who finished 22nd overall with a 20:40.
However, Women’s Head Coach Michael Smith felt the difference makers were senior All-American Hannah Neczypor and junior Rachel Paul.
Neczypor finished 28th with a 20:53 while Paul finished right after in 29th with a 20:55. Freshman Kennedy Weisner (34th with a 21:01), graduate student Joanna Stevens (46th with a 21:07) and junior Sarah Cotton (56th with a 21:13) rounded out the second place women’s squad.
“Hannah Neczypor and Rachel Paul had a really good last 1,000 meters and they finished really hard. That is probably is what allowed us to beat Florida State. I think we were probably behind Florida State with 1,000 meters to go and those two finishing like they did is probably what allowed us to beat them,” Bonsey said.
For the men, the sixth-place finish would not have been possible without the team’s depth. Eight Hoyas who competed in Boston did not feature for the men at Lehigh, and six who did not compete earlier in the season recorded times under 25 minutes.
“I think that [the results] showed how deep we are, especially considering we held out eight guys who ran up at Boston last week. I think we showed we’re probably one of the deepest teams in the country,” Bonsey said.
Graduate student Stephen Kersh led the Hoyas with a 33rd-place finish in 24:32 in his first race of his Georgetown career. He came to the team as a graduate student transfer from University of Portland, followed by fellow graduate student and All-American Matt Howard, who finished 42nd with a 24:41.
”[Kersh] got a little banged up, so this was his first race, both at Georgetown and of this season. I thought he did a really good job leading us. This was probably Matt Howard’s best cross-country race ever as well. … I think they are going to set us up well for the future.”
Despite its depth, the men’s team is still looking for more frontrunners to emerge in order to elevate the team to a higher level moving forward. Having fallen from the national rankings after being ranked 29th in the preseason, the men’s team is looking to continue its progress in two weeks at the NCAA preseason meet in Terre Haute, Ind. It will mark the first meet where the full team will compete, showing what the team can do with everyone present.
On the women’s side, the NCAA preseason meet will present a chance to continue the team’s momentum.
“At a meet like the one we are going to in two weeks, the pace will be fast and we have got to get used to locking into those faster paces,” Smith said. “We have yet to see what the national level competition is going to look like for the 6,000 meters. We need to continue to practice and work hard at adjusting to those paces.”
Whatever the outcome in Terre Haute, the Paul Short Run showed the progress that the cross-country program is making this season and the strides both teams still need to make.