The 6,000-meter women's race will start at 11 a.m. at the Metzger Athletic Complex on the Lafayette campus. The 8,000-meter men's race will start at 12 noon.
Both the Greyhounds' men and women's teams are eager to run in Loyola's fourth Patriot League championship races, according to Head Coach Amy Horst.
“Our athletes are very eager to run in this race,” said Horst. “Our goal is simple; we want to improve our standing in the Patriot League. Since Loyola joined the Patriot League, I don't think either team has finished higher than eighth.”
In the first three years of Patriot League membership, the men's team has finished ninth once and 10th twice, while the women's team has experienced two eighth-place showings and a ninth-place finish.
In preparation for the Patriot League Championship, Horst had her teams compete in some very difficult races this season including meets at Navy, Virginia, Lehigh and Princeton.
“We wanted our athletes to experience some new challenges,” says Horst. “In some of those meets, we struggled in a good way. As a result, these teams have excellent mindsets. We have been getting ready for this meet since the preseason.
“One of our objectives is to make everyone comfortable being uncomfortable. We want to push ourselves.”
When the women race at 11 o’clock Saturday they will feature a balanced team that is led by senior Sarah Askine. The Greyhounds' team captain, Askine has been an excellent leader on and off the course, according to Horst.
“Sarah is a very steady, level-headed runner for us,” Horst adds. “She is a very positive leader who doesn't have bad days. We are thankful to have her.”
Askine , who finished 51st in last year's Patriot League race, led Loyola in two of their four races this season.
“One of the good things about our team is that we never know who will be our top runner,” adds the coach. “We have several athletes who could lead us, and we have a strong top seven. No one has assumed the role of the team's top runner, but everyone knows that their job is to reach the finish line and not worry about who else is running.”
Sophomores Christina Daniels and Mary Sutton are two veteran runners who finished 29th and 44th in last year's Patriot League race. Both were among Loyola's top seven all season long.
Freshmen Megan Crilly and Kayleigh Caggiano have both been impressive this season. Crilly was one of the team's top runners in all four meets this season, while Caggiano ran well in her three meets.
“Megan has been consistent in everything all year,” says Horst. “Kayleigh has tremendous potential, and she is a confident runner who isn't afraid.”
The Greyhounds have also had some surprising performances from senior Cordelia McGinn. A relative newcomer to cross country, she has been one of the team's top runners in almost every race this year.
Junior Alex Saffadi has been the undisputed leader of the men's team. A native of Hopewell Junction, New York, Saffadi was Loyola's top finisher in all four races this season.
Horst says, “Alex has been great this season for us. He ran an outstanding race at Princeton, and we are expecting him to do well this weekend.
Senior Tom Porth has also had a strong season and owns a “tremendous work ethic,” according to the coach.
The Greyhounds will also count on seniors Zachary Nerenberg and Brad Beard, as well as sophomore Alex Buchholz to improve the team’s placement in the Patriot League.
In the women's race, Bucknell is the defending champion and will be seeking its ninth outright Patriot League title.
The Navy men's team will be competing for its fourth consecutive Patriot League championship. In conference history, the Mids have won, or shared, seven championships and are tied with Army West Point for the most League men's championships. Bucknell and American have also won six titles.