Nov. 14, 2014Katrina Coogan (Exeter, N.H./Phillips Exeter Academy) and the No. 2 women's cross country team continued the storybook 2014 season with an individual title for the senior and a team title for the Hoyas at the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Region Championships. It is the first team crown since the 2011 season when the Blue & Gray shared the title with conference foe Villanova. Coogan becomes the first GU individual winner since 2007 when Melissa Grelli took the title. The men's team, tabbed No. 14 by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), finished second at the regional behind Villanova. Both teams earned automatic berths to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana.
"They executed the race plan really well," Head Women's Cross Country Coach Michael Smith said. "I wanted the team to go very conservatively at the start and put themselves in a position where they could practice moving through the crowd and chaos, a situation they will be in at nationals."
The Hoya women went with a light roster today, resting the likes of Kelsey Smith (Exeter, N.H./Exeter) and Andrea Keklak (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury/Princeton). With Smith's race plan, Coogan found herself far back in the race after the first mile and needed to make up ground.
At the two-mile split, the Hoyas were in third place and had to work through the crowd and pick off runners to move up back up in the team race. Utilizing a 50-second spread among the point scorers, the Hoyas were able to pull of the team win with 38 points, besting West Virginia (42), Princeton (125), Villanova (128) and host Penn State (155) for the top five.
Coogan won the individual race with a time of 20:06 over the 6,000-meter course - making her move with just 1,000 meters to go. She was followed by Haley Pierce (Wilmington, Del./Tatnall School) and Samantha Nadel (Glen Head, N.Y./North Shore) in seventh and eighth place, respectively, with matching times of 20:39. All-American Madeline Chambers (Rocky River, Ohio/Magnificat) recorded a 10th-place finish (20:46) while Sarah Cotton (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand) finished 12th overall (20:55).
"I felt good about the race," Coogan explained. "We knew that everyone was going to be going out pretty hard and it put us in a good situation to really fight our way back and learn how to move through bodies and race through people."
The men took second place in the race with 74 points behind Villanova (41). Host Penn State finished third (87 points) followed by Princeton (88), Navy (143) and Penn (151) for the top five of the 23-team field.
"I was very proud of our guys today and we are excited to be heading back to Terre Haute for the NCAA meet," Men's Distance Coach Brandon Bonsey said. "We dealt with a lot of adversity today but still came out of the meet with an automatic qualifier to the national meet. We've made a lot of progress over the last year and we're ready to have our best meet of the year in eight days."
Running without Matthew Howard (Blacksburg, Va./Blacksburg), the Hoyas executed a strong team performance, utilizing a spread of 31 seconds among the top five runners. Scott Carpenter (Lenox, Mass./Lenox Memorial) led the way with a sixth-place performance (30:23) over the 10,000-meter course. Darren Fahy (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon) finished eighth (30:24), followed by John Murray (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) who timed in at 30:31 (14th). Ryan Gil (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) and Collin Leibold (Falls Church, Va./Gonzaga) were the final point scorers for the Hoyas with times of 30:44 (19th) and 30:53 (27th), respectively.
With both teams finishing among the top two in the region, they both earn the automatic berth to the NCAA Championships, held at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind., on Saturday, November 22.
USTFCCCA All-Region Men's Team: Scott Carpenter, Darren Fahy, John Murray, Ryan Gil
USTFCCCA All-Region Women's Team: Katrina Coogan, Haley Pierce, Samantha Nadel, Madeline Chambers, Sarah Cotton, Annamarie Maag
Katrina Coogan becomes the first GU individual women's champion since 2007 when Melissa Grelli won the individual title
This is the first women's title since the Hoyas shared the title with Villanova in 2011, the same year the Hoyas won the NCAA Championship
This is the first time the Hoyas have won the title outright since the 2003 season, when it was considered the NCAA Region II Championship