With only two meets on the docket this season, men’s and women’s cross country will enter their respective Atlantic 10 Championships with half the competition time as a typical season.
The Colonials kicked off the 2020-21 season Feb. 5, almost one year after finishing their last races at the A-10 Indoor Track and Field Championships March 1, 2020. Traditionally a fall sport, the squads were forced to merge the cross country and outdoor track and field seasons last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve been wanting competition for almost a year now,” sophomore James Glockenmeier said. “We’re all super excited and from the competitive standpoint. I feel like we’re more competitive than we would have been.”
Most of the men’s and women’s runners were not on campus this fall, instead opting to train at home. Glockenmeier said he and his teammates spent the fall physically preparing for the next time they’d be able to lace up and race by building up mileage and establishing a base.
“Having this time off was more of a mental hit than a physical head, and I feel like a lot of guys were able to focus mentally on getting driven for the competition,” he said.
Head coach Terry Weir said accountability has allowed the squads to step back into competition after the long pause. He added that some players kept connected virtually with him and their teammates, while others, like six runners on the men’s team, opted to train together.
“Both teams did a great job on their own last semester when they weren’t here on campus,” Weir said. “They were at home and did their own training and all of them did it and they came back in great shape and so that makes the coaching part a little bit easier.”
The women’s team and two runners from the men’s squad opened the season at the Richmond Invite in a five-school field Feb. 5. The women’s team placed fifth as senior Kathryn Nohilly led the pack with a No. 5 finish. Glockenmeier and sophomore Lucas Brown nabbed No. 7 and No. 17, respectively, while competing as individuals.
Weir said the men were unable to field a full team against Richmond due to COVID-19 clearance protocols, but more runners were cleared for the second meet of the year.
Both teams then competed at the Spider-Patriot Cross Country Classic Feb. 20, where the women’s team nabbed fourth and the men’s team finished ninth of 10-team fields. Senior Margaret Coogan placed a team-high No. 9 while sophomore Ryan Fowkes paced the men’s team with a No. 30 finish.
This season is the first season in nine years that GW will not compete in the Princeton Invitational. Despite the canceled meets and abbreviated schedule, runners said they’re taking every opportunity available to them to compete.
“I feel really lucky that we’re going to do even two weeks before our conference championship, because originally we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to get in that,” senior Kathryn Nohilly said.
Nohilly added that even though the teams’ seasons are truncated, they have the benefit of competing on the same course, Pole Green Park.
She said runners can adjust their training based on their previous performances ahead of the A-10 Championship. Nohilly ran her previous eight-fastest 5K time in program history against Richmond but then bested her performance with a time of 17:56.6 on her second go-around on the course.
In their first two meets, the men’s and women’s teams have competed against George Mason, Richmond, Davidson, Saint Joseph’s and Duquesne – all A-10 teams they will see again at the Championships.
Last season, the men finished No. 12 of 14 in the A-10 championship, while the women posted a second-place finish, the highest finish in program history. The women’s team returned nine members of last year’s roster, while the men’s team welcomed back 13 members.
The women’s program added four freshmen and two graduate students, and the men’s team tabbed three freshmen and one graduate student.
Weir said for a lot of runners, their first meet back allows them to readjust and acclimate to competition. Going into the A-10 championship, most Colonials will have at least one meet under their belts.
“What I’m looking for from them is just a little more sharper, competitive mindset, and taking some chances and putting themselves into competitive situations that they didn’t do last time,” he said.
After the A-10 Championship comes the NCAA Championship, scheduled for March 15. Only two Colonials in program history have recorded qualifying times at the NCAA regional – Megan Hogan in 2009 and 2010 and Suzanne Dannheim in 2019. Ten days after the NCAA Championship, outdoor track and field commences.
The Colonials will compete for A-10 Championships Friday at 1 p.m.