Georgetown’s nationally ranked men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel to Lehigh on Saturday for the annual Paul Short Invitational. Both the No. 20 men’s team and the No. 6 women’s team are looking to extend their successes after wins at the Navy Invitational and Dartmouth, respectively.
The race represents an important test for the women’s squad, with several key runners participating in their first race after a summer of training.
“I’m excited to see the four athletes that we held out of the Dartmouth meet,” Women’s Head Coach Michael Smith said. “A lot of them have just done a great chunk of work and the last time they’ve raced is on the track last spring.”
Fifth-year graduate student Rachel Schneider, senior Madeline Chambers, junior Katrina Coogan and sophomore Samantha Nadel will all be lining up for the gun for the first time since the end of last spring’s track season.
“A couple of them are some of the fastest athletes that have ever run at Georgetown in the women’s program,” Smith said. “So coming off the track success they’ve had to now run cross country is really exciting.”
On the men’s side, the team is hoping to make another statement after a strong showing at the Navy Invitational in mid-September. The team will be led by the same runners who earned the win in Annapolis, including senior Brian King, who was awarded Big East athlete of the week honors after the victory, and fifth-year graduate student Andrew Springer.
“We’re going to Paul Short, and we’re trying to win,” Men’s Head Coach Brandon Bonsey said.
The men’s squad will use a strategy similar to the one successfully executed at Navy, intended both to train and to test.
“We’re going to go out really hard for the first 2k and then settle and get in position,” Bonsey said. “We want to make ourselves hurt and our competitors hurt.”
After successful first meets, the race is another chance for the teams to assess their progress as training progresses. Both the men and the women are coming off an unusual three-week gap between races, longer than the typical two-week gap. The break provided time for full recovery and intensive training, the results of which the coaches are looking forward to seeing.
“We could make sure we recovered from Dartmouth and really hit the next week to 10 days hard, having it being spaced out,” Smith said. “Even more time to get the legs underneath us for the Paul Short meet. So I think it worked out being a really good thing.”
The men’s team also found the added time valuable.
“The two weeks after Navy were some of the best weeks we’ve ever had,” Bonsey said.
Both teams are looking to see how they measure up against potential opponents, an opportunity made possible by the top schools represented at Paul Short. Strong teams including Indiana, Iowa State and Harvard will provide an important gauge for the men and women as the season continues to develop.
“For me, this one is to really see how we look when we get out there and give a hard effort,” Smith said. “There are some other nationally ranked teams and we’re going to see how we stack up.”
With many of the runners on the men’s and women’s team either young or more experienced on the track than on the cross country course, Paul Short also represents an important source of experience.
“I think we’ve got several athletes that we factor in to be heavy contributors this season that don’t have much collegiate cross country running experience,” Smith said. “So we definitely emphasize more of these preseason meets to gain that experience.”
Younger runners in particular are in need of the experience that meets like Paul Short provide.
“In our sport, it comes down to one day in November, and for everyone all these meets are just a game, preparation for that national meet,” Smith said. “But for the younger ones — our sophomores and our redshirt freshman — it’s time to learn from every single race and gain experience they don’t have yet.”
Even for more experienced runners, however, conditioning to the desired output for a racing is a critical objective of preseason meets.
“It’s a meet we’re using to prepare for later in the season,” Bonsey said. “We’re going to work on some things technically we can improve on.”
The men’s race is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., with the women following at 11:45 a.m.