Nov. 21, 2014
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Both the Georgetown University men's and women's cross country teams will line up alongside 30 of the most elite teams in the country and vie for the 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championship on Saturday at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course in Terre Haute, Ind. The Hoya women, tabbed No. 2 in the country by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), enter the race just four days after Head Women's Cross Country Coach Michael Smith and All-American Katrina Coogan (Exeter, N.H./Phillips Exeter Academy) were named the USTFCCCA Mid-Atlantic Region Women's Coach of the Year and Athlete of the Year, respectively.
"There is a lot of gratitude being at this meet," Smith said at the NCAA press conference on Friday. "I think the NCAA Championship is one of the most special events in our sport. The opportunity for young people to come together and run as a team like this is tremendous. We cannot wait to get out there, race and represent Georgetown."
The women are on the hunt for their second national championship in four years, previously winning the program's first NCAA team championship in 2011. They are led by Coogan, the first GU student-athlete to be named the Mid-Atlantic Women's Athlete of the Year since Melissa Grelli in 2007. Coogan won the individual race at both the BIG EAST Championship as well as the Mid-Atlantic Region Championship just one week ago. Coogan is one of three Hoyas currently in Terre Haute who were on the 2011 championship team along with seniors Hannah Neczypor (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton) and Annamarie Maag (Lake Oswego, Ore./Jesuit Prep).
The women have had the luxury of depth during the 2014 campaign. With arguably one of the deepest rosters in the country, the Blue & Gray have interchangeable pieces allowing the team to rest runners without sacrificing anything by way of team score.
"We're fortunate to have capable athletes that go beyond seven slots," Smith said of GU's ever-changing lineup. "Throughout the season it's a process of training through certain meets or resting people when they need rest. I recognize that some years we may not be in a position to do that, but, this has been a year that we've been able to. The way we train, we really try to pay attention to what the athlete needs as far as making assignments for races.
"The group I'm fortunate enough to coach is getting better and better - they are not tired, but just getting more excited. I'm really excited to get to this stage of the season with the team feeling that way."
The men's team, tied for 13th in the latest USTFCCCA poll, returns to the national stage after a hiatus during the 2013 season. The Hoyas have shown their strength in pack running over the last two meets with second-place showings at both the BIG EAST Championship and the Mid-Atlantic Region Championships, falling shy of the fifth-ranked Villanova Wildcats both times.
"The men will look to continue to execute the Georgetown cross country racing style," Men's Distance Coach Brandon Bonsey said. "We will approach this meet just like any other. I'm very confident that all seven men lining up tomorrow will run a good team race. If they do that then we will be pleased with the results."
Both teams ran the championship course today in considerably colder conditions than when the teams ran the course at the Pre-National meet in October. The course will likely be muddy on Saturday as Terre Haute is calling for showers late Friday night and the considerably warmer temperatures on Saturday will likely thaw out the course.
The races will be held at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course with the women's race slated for noon ET, followed by the men's race approximately at 1 p.m. ET. Both races will be streamed live on www.ncaa.com.