After capturing 20th place at the 2015 NCAA Championship meet with 491 points, the Georgetown women’s cross country team transitioned to the indoor track and field season, competing in the Navy Lid Lifter meet in Annapolis, Md.

The Hoyas started the season with strong performances from several athletes, placing first in three different events.

This was the first track and field meet of the season. According to Head Coach Michael Smith, the focus of the meet was to smoothly transition from the grueling cross-country season into the track season.

“Coming off of cross-country, we don’t typically have the athletes that ran a lot during the cross-country season, especially the national meet, run in early meets for indoor track,” Smith said. “For the meet at Navy for the women’s team, that’s for people who have not been running a lot of cross-country or who have been waiting to start their year off.”

The Hoyas’ 4×400-meter relay team claimed first place with a time of 3:52.15. The relay team consisted of junior Sabrina Southerland, junior Ebony McKeever, junior Emma Keenan and sophomore Aleta Looker. Southerland was impressed with her teammates’ determination and grit.

“Winning the 4×4 was a great way to open the season,” Southerland said. “None of us thought we would be able to sprint this early, so each of us definitely surprised ourselves when we received the baton. We all had amazing splits and can’t wait to see what the future holds for our next relay.”

Senior Sarah Cotton also secured first place in the women’s 3000m, running a time of 10:01.82. Sophomore Madeline Perez followed Cotton by finishing in fifth place with a time of 10:18.47.

“Sarah had some injuries in the fall,” Smith said. “It’s not just an opening indoor meet for her, it’s her first meet since outdoor track last season. You can train all you want, but returning to racing after you haven’t raced in a while is a very difficult process for any athlete. So to start off by getting on the track with a win, being able to get in the front and push, that’s going to serve her well later in the season.”

The Hoyas’ early-season success continued in the 1600m where Southerland placed first overall with a time of 4:51.66. Following Southerland for the Hoyas were her 4×400-meter relay teammates Keenan and Looker, who placed second (5:01.86) and third (5:03.03), respectively.

“As the season progresses, I think that we should focus on unity,” Southerland said. “Though it’s an individual sport, it’s often easy to only be focused on yourself. If we focus on winning together and lifting each other up, we will receive great results this season.”

Sophomore Jody-Ann Knight competed in both the 60m and the 200m. Knight placed sixth in the 200m with a time of 25.85 seconds and ninth in the 60m, crossing the finish line in 7.99 seconds.

“Jody ran the 1600-meter and the 200-meter,” Smith said. “I think Jody is off to a great start. We don’t typically focus on time this early in the season, and focus on the technical aspects of the race and getting a feel for the track. So I think Jody and Ebony are off to a really good start when it comes to those things.”

The Hoyas will continue to train through the holiday break as they prepare for the long track season ahead.

“The holiday break at Georgetown is an important time for us,” said Smith. “We get a lot of the pieces in place before they go as far as fitness goes, but we really want their training during that time to be quite focused. Because the track season goes so long, this is still a period where training is so important. So leaving Georgetown for a month is a very crucial time for us. They will have really clear directions for what to do.”

The women’s indoor track and field team will compete in the George Mason Father Diamond Invitational meet Jan. 9 in Fairfax, Va. while the men will open their season Jan. 16 at the Penn State Nittany Lion Challenge.

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