The Georgetown men’s and women’s track and field teams will travel to Penn State’s campus in State College, Pa., this Saturday to compete in the Penn State Relays. Each team will participate in its third meet of the indoor season after the Hoyas’ men’s and women’s teams both came in second place in the Father Diamond Invitational last weekend behind stellar performances from individual athletes on each team.
The Hoyas were satisfied with the results from last weekend’s meet and are looking forward to the new challenge that they will face at Penn State.
“I thought we completed really well,” Director of Track and Field Patrick Henner said. “I was really pleased, from [senior] Rich D’Ambrosio [earning a personal record] in the long jump to the [800-meter] to the mile.”
Both teams and their individual runners are picking up accolades and setting records to start off their season. The women’s team is currently ranked No. 10 in the country, and sophomore Ryan Manahan and senior Hannah Neczypor were named the Big East male and female track athletes of the week, respectively. Manahan finished first in the 800m run with a time of 1:50.73, marking the fastest time in the 800m event in the nation this season. Neczypor finished first overall in the mile run and first among collegiate runners in the 800m run.
“It is an honor to be named the Big East Conference female track athlete of the week. I love being part of such a strong and hard- working team, and I couldn’t wait to be back training and racing with them after winter break,” Neczypor said.“Working together as a team allowed for a strong start of the season at this past meet, and I am very excited for what is ahead this year.”
Despite the success of the team and its standout individuals, Henner is not as focused on results as much as on improving how Georgetown competes at its meets.
“I was very happy across the board,” Henner said. “To me, the George Mason [Father Diamond Invitational] was on a nice, flat track, but [the track at the Penn State relays] is a fast bank-track and there might be a little bit better competition. We’re not really that worried yet about putting up fast times, but we just want to get out there and compete well on a fast track.”
At this point in the season, the Hoyas are concentrating on improving their times, and will continue to develop both the stronger and weaker points of their teams.
“I think we just need to continue to work across the board, whether it’s [senior] Tyler Smith in the short sprints or Jody-Ann Knight, the freshman sprinter who is doing a great job,” Henner said. “Our middle-distance group on both the men’s and women’s sides is one of the best in the country. So all those different areas we’re looking to do well in.”
Georgetown is also looking to improve in the field events. At the Father Diamond Invitational, D’Ambrosio finished fourth in the long jump, but no other Hoya finished in the top five in their respective events. While the Hoyas will compete in those events, significant short-term success remains unlikely.
“That’s definitely an area that has not been our strong point,” Henner said. “We just hired a new coach and we are going to definitely try to build a horizontal jumps program, the long jump and triple jump. But across the board it’s probably going to be a tough area for us to be a great field event squad just because we don’t really have areas to practice some of the field events.”
Even if they do not show as much progress as they would like in the field events during the indoor season, the Hoyas will still have the opportunity to prepare for the outdoor season, which starts in late March. Henner has made sure his team understands this, and the team is going into meets focused on improving rather than pressuring themselves to win now.
“I think as a team and individually we are looking mainly to give a solid effort,” senior Annamarie Maag said. “Because it is so early in the season, we are really just focusing getting more sharp with each race. This will benefit us most later in indoor and into the outdoor season as well, as May and June are our main focus.”
“The goal for some will be to get a qualifier for the indoor national meet, while the goal for others will be to just focus on competing and putting in a great effort,” junior Ahmed Bile said. “Collectively the goal as a team is always to compete hard, put forth a great effort and win races, so that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Penn State Relays start Saturday at 11 a.m. and will continue throughout the afternoon at the Ashenfelter III Indoor Track at Penn State.