Men’s and women’s cross country ended a historic season with a conference title and record-setting performances at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals.
Women’s cross country won the first Atlantic 10 championship in program history in October and both the men’s and women’s squads notched their best-ever finishes at the NCAA tournament Nov. 12. The women took first place at the A-10 Championships behind the strength of their depth, with the top five runners all placing inside the top 17 and graduate student Margaret Coogan taking second place overall, giving them momentum heading into Regionals.
“We had a really high expectations going into that race because we knew how good we were,” Coogan said. “We were just coming off A-10s and were really excited. We were competing at a level that we’ve never competed before, pretty consistently all year, which is just a great way to go into your final race.”
Meanwhile, the men finished seventh out of 14 teams but featured all-conference performer junior James Glockenmeier, whose time of 25:56.6 in the eight kilometer was a personal best and the fifth-best at the meet.
Glockenmeier said the men underperformed at A-10s and the group will need to develop more team cohesion and spirit heading into next season. He said the team missed out on on-campus training time during the pandemic, which proved to be a setback for a roster with just one senior and one graduate student.
Experience played a major role in the women’s squad’s success. Four of the five scoring runners at the A-10 championship were graduate students who either returned for one more year at GW or transferred in to bolster the unit in its title push.
The women continued their strong form, leading them to win three of the season’s five meets heading into the Mid-Atlantic Regional. The Colonials earned a program-record sixth place, headed by graduate student Peri Pavicic’s 26th place individual finish.
The event marked the second consecutive tournament in which the women’s team achieved a top-10 finish at the NCAA Regional. Five student-athletes placed in the top 60 and freshman Olivia Syftestad set a personal record in the six kilometer event, crossing the line in 21:49.2.
The men placed 13th at the Regional, bettering their previous record from 2017 by one spot. Weir said the 10 kilometer event became a point of experience-building, as four of the six Colonial men competing made their collegiate debuts at that distance.
Glockenmeier, the sole runner with 10k experience, finished in 31:39.5, a personal best and good for 33rd place overall at the meet as he concluded an impressive personal campaign. He said the Regionals were a moment of “redemption” for the team as they continue to develop and improve for next year.
Earlier this year, Glockenmeier set a personal record of 15:55.0 in the 5k at the Mount St. Mary’s Duals Sept. 3 and 25:43.5 in the 8K at the James Madison Invitational Sept. 17, good for third and first place respectively.
“I was able to prove myself and compete at the same level and I was lucky enough to accomplish a lot this season,” Glockenmeier said. “But most importantly, I was really happy with the fact that I did get a sense for winning and being at the front of some of these big meets and that means a lot for for me.”
Both squads are currently taking a two-week break from team activities to focus on final exams.
The women will return for the indoor track season but for the first time, the men will hold out for the outdoor track season instead.
“We are a very close team and I think the only difference this year that’s going to be a lot different for us is it will be the first time our men and women won’t be traveling together,” Weir said.
Weir took charge of the Colonials more than a decade ago when the team consistently placed in the bottom four of the conference, using his methods to steadily build them up into a potential A-10 powerhouse.
“When I got here we were the bottom of the barrel, but there’s no way I would have stuck here for 10 years if I didn’t think we could do it,” Weir said.
Coogan said Weir and the rest of the GW coaching staff got the best out of the athletes on the roster, saying that Weir fosters their passion for the sport and motivates them to push even harder.
“Coach’s methods are so successful for people that care about the sport and want to love the sport and want to be a part of the team and want to continue running,” Coogan said. “He’s never burnt people out or forced people to be racing if they don’t want to be racing.”
The promising incoming freshmen will help replenish the women’s roster in particular, which is set to lose up to seven runners to graduation. The men, meanwhile, could potentially return 14 of the 15 player team as they chase their first conference title.
“I know we’ll do this on the guy’s side,” Weir said. “We’re just gonna bide our time here for it, it’s gonna happen here in the next year or so.”
Roman Bobek contributed reporting.
This article appeared in the December 6, 2021 issue of the Hatchet.