After promising finishes for both the men and the women at the IC4A-ECAC Championships two weeks ago, the GW men’s and women’s cross country teams figured to make noise at the Atlantic 10 Championships in Centreville, Va. Saturday.
Neither team did as well as expected, though, as the women finished fifth and the men finished eighth out of 11 teams in rainy conditions at Bull Run Park, GW’s home course.
“We weren’t the same team that we were two weeks ago, and I don’t know why,” head coach Jim Hopkins said. “We didn’t run as well as I wanted us to. Maybe I just pushed them a little too hard.”
A steady rain plagued much of the meet, which turned the course into a big puddle, though Hopkins said he felt the weather had little effect on GW’s performance.
“You can’t really do anything to get ready for these kinds of conditions,” Hopkins said. “You can’t predict the weather. Everyone has to run under the same conditions anyhow, so I don’t really think it was a factor.”
The GW women (167 points), who turned in a first-place performance at the ECACs, improved from their seventh-place finish at the 1996 A-10 meet, but did not do as well as Hopkins or his runners expected.
The GW women were led by senior Tarra Short (19:45.3), who finished 24th, well behind the pace of the meet winner, Massachusetts’ Rebecca Donaghue (18:32.5). UMass (28), which had five of the top 10 finishers, handily won the meet.
“I didn’t run as well as I thought I would, but considering the day and the conditions, it was pretty good,” Short said.
Gail Haggerty (28th place, 19:51.1) and Lauren Edwards (19:54.6) both turned in solid performances for GW. Amanda Roebel, who finished sixth at the ECACs, finished 49th overall and was the fifth GW finisher.
The GW men (183) fared worse than the women, with just two of their runners finishing in the top 50. Junior Jeff McCarthy (26:31) led the men with his 12th-place finish, while Jason Weber (26:51) came in 20th.
“I decided that I was borderline top 10 going into the meet, so I just wanted to be close,” McCarthy said. I felt like I finished fairly strong, and I think I caught a lot of guys in the last mile. I am pleased with what I did.”
Like Hopkins, McCarthy felt that the rain was not a reason for the teams’ performances.
“You just have to be ready to get really muddy,” McCarthy said. “Actually, runners really dig this stuff. You get wet, you get mud all over you, you get psyched up. It’s actually fun.”
Virginia Tech (19) was the class of the men’s meet, placing six of seven runners in the top 20, including the winner, Matt Zacharias (25:34.7), and the second and third place runners.
Both teams will wrap up their seasons Nov. 15 at the District II Championships in State College, Pa.
(Photo by Tyson Trish/editor in chief)