After a strong postseason showing in the 2012 campaign, Georgetown cross country is back in action this fall with a host of incoming athletes and developing returners that are already generating buzz on the national scene.
Recently, the women’s team was ranked sixth in the country in the NCAA preseason coach’s poll, and is currently sitting in the top spot in the Mid-Atlantic regional ranking.
“I think we’ve been given a very fair ranking. The Division I coaches’ poll is the most informed, and they’ve got a good handle on the poll. I think it’s a fair ranking — we’re definitely a top-10 team,” Women’s cross country Head Coach Michael Smith said.
The women’s team will be led this year by a core of experienced athletes, including senior Madeline Chambers, who has junior-year eligibility. Chambers emerged as a consistently solid number-one runner midway through last year and should be ready to score low numbers all season for the Hoyas.
“When you’re bringing back a number-one like [Chambers], who has the experience of running at a national level as a freshman, but now has the experience, that’s a great feeling because I think she’s now comfortable with her position as a leader on the team,” Smith said.
Junior Katrina Coogan will hopefully form the second half of a lethal punch for the Hoyas at the front, as she had a breakout track season, running consistently in the 4:40s in the mile and low nine-minute range for the 3200-meter events. Sophomore Samantha Nadel will also bring a strong distance base to the squad this year after training through most of the last indoor track season to run at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Poland.
In addition, the women’s team has added a very strong recruiting class this year. Freshman Bobbie Burgess took third last year in the Indiana cross country state finals with a 5000m time of 17 minutes, 51 seconds, and she should be in the mix for a racing spot on the women’s team this fall. Joining Burgess in the freshman class is Sabrina Southerland, who was a national champion high school runner in the 800m. Additionally, the Hoyas expect to add in senior Joanna Stevens, who has been injured for much of Georgetown career but is now running well and could be an important contributor to this year’s squad.
“We’ve got a lot of people who could be a surprise this year, and everybody is looking pretty strong,” Smith said. “We’ve got scary depth right now.”
The men’s side is also looking to continue to be a force in the Mid-Atlantic region and break onto the stage as national contenders this year. The coaches’ poll has the Hoya men at 25th in the country and slated to finish second in the region.
“I think that in some ways we’re a little undervalued, because when you look at some of the track PRs that we’ve run, and the depth that we have, I think there are very few teams in the country that can match that,” Assistant Coach Brandon Bonsey said.
The Hoyas will be led this year by All-American graduate student Andrew Springer. Springer took 63rd place at last year’s national championships and was the first Hoya across the line at that meet. He continued to be a major contributor on the track, at one point having the fifth-fastest 5000m time in the country.
“Obviously Andrew had a fantastic track season, really broke out, and if we’re going to accomplish what we want to this cross country season, he is going to need to continue that — and I have no doubt that he will,” Bonsey said.
Joining Springer will be junior Miles Schoedler, who had a strong cross country season last year, finishing third for the Hoyas at nationals. Schoedler was less present during the track season but should be ready to continue where he left off this year. Schoedler will be complemented by classmate John Murray, who consistently recorded solid finishes during the 2012 season.
Sophomore Darren Fahy will also be an integral part of the team this year, after having one of the best freshman years in Georgetown program history, finishing 11th in the Big East Cross Country Championship and qualifying for the World Junior Cross Country Championships. If Fahy can consistently run up with Springer, the Hoyas could pose a serious threat at the national level.
“Darren is in terrific shape right now; he had a really good summer. He’s extremely talented and will definitely be able to help us this year,” Bonsey said.
Unlike the women’s squad, most of the Hoya freshmen men will redshirt this year, as the recruiting class is more focused on middle-distance events on the track.
“The team is looking really good right now,” Bonsey said. “It’s a long year and a long season, so we haven’t done too many really difficult workouts, but the guys have been running good solid mileage. For the most part, everyone had a good summer and everyone is healthy. We’re excited.”