In the final meet of the regular season for the Georgetown indoor track and field team, the Hoyas accomplished what they had already done so much of throughout the year: they made history.
Trekking through the blizzard up to Penn State this past Saturday, both the men’s and women’s teams rewrote the record books in the 800-meter event, with sophomores Ryan Manahan and Sabrina Southerland dashing their way into the respected lore of Georgetown University track and field.
“Georgetown has a great history in a variety of [track and field] events, but in the last 50 years, where we have gotten the most notoriety has probably been in the middle distance area,” Director of Track and Field Pat Henner said. “Ryan Manahan broke Rich Kenah’s (MSB ’92) record, and Rich was an Olympian, NCAA champion — overall just one of America’s best middle distance runners for years. Then Sabrina breaks Miesha Marzell’s (COL ’97) record and she was [also] an NCAA champion.”
Both Southerland and Manahan edged out the old records by a mere six hundredths of a second, with Southerland coming in at 2:03.89 and Manahan in 1:47.34, just one week after he clocked a sub four-minute mile.
With all the hype surrounding the respective records, neither runner thought the feat of toppling the school’s 800-meter mark was in the cards when they stepped onto the track on Saturday. Manahan and Southerland were focused on seizing their last chance at qualifying for nationals before next week’s Big East Championship came around.
“Hannah was supposed to lead us through the 600m mark at 1:30, and that last 200 meters, we were just supposed to go for it,” Southerland said. “I wasn’t really thinking about the record. This was the perfect situation to get a good time [for nationals]. I just tried to commit to the pace and knew that a fast time would come with it.”
Similarly for Manahan, breaking records was the last thing on his mind.
“I was really just trying to qualify for nationals,” Manahan said. “I never really knew what the record was until afterwards when my coach told me I might have broken it.”
Coming in behind each runner was a slew of Hoyas who now have also thrown their hats into the ring as potential qualifiers for the national meet. In the men’s 800m, graduate student Billy Ledder and freshman Joe White posted times that have them ranked 14th and 15th in the country, respectively. On the women’s side, senior Becca DeLoache and freshman Piper Donaghu are now both near qualifying for nationals and are ranked 8th and 12th, respectively.
Among the other Hoyas to take first on Saturday, junior Samantha Nadel won in the mile with a personal-best of 4:39.78 after deciding to race mere minutes before her event.
“Going into the mile this weekend, my coach and I still weren’t totally sure what I was going to do,” Nadel said. “I was coming off a 5k last weekend, and my coach didn’t know if he wanted me to treat the race as a workout or to go for it and try and [set a personal record].”
Ultimately, 10 minutes before the start of the women’s mile event, Nadel would decide she should race to the best of her ability, and she was rewarded with a time that now ranks her 20th nationally.
By the end of the meet, however, all anyone could seem to talk about was the two records set by Southerland and Manahan.
“When you break a school record in middle distance at Georgetown, you’re breaking a record that is hallowed,” Henner said. “These are the athletes that have set the standard here. It’s kind of like someone coming in and breaking Patrick Ewing’s rebounding or blocks record.”
With so much history already having been made this season, the Hoyas will roll into this weekend’s Big East Championship poised to avenge last year’s second-place finish behind rival Villanova.
Hoya Staff Writer Madeline Auerbach contributed to this story.
A previous version of this story stated that Billy Ledder was a senior. The story has been updated to reflect his status as a graduate student.