Cross Country Prepares For Saturday's Patriot League Championships
When the Loyola University Maryland men's and women's cross country teams travel to Lehigh University to compete in Saturday's Patriot League Championship meet, they will be running on a course where they ran one of their best meets of the season.
The Greyhounds competed in the Paul Short Run on the Lehigh campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on September 29, and competing against some tough competition from around the nation, the men's team took 17th place on the 8,000-meter course. The women were 11th on the 6,000-meter track.
Two weeks later, the men's team had an even better performance at the Penn State National Open, buoying the Greyhounds' hopes for this Saturday's Patriot League Championships.
"We are going into the Patriot League meet with a very positive attitude," said Loyola Head Coach Amy Horst. "From the start of the season, our goal has been to finish higher in this Patriot League meet than we've ever finished before."
Coach Horst has challenged her runners from the start of the pre-season. The Greyhounds faced the toughest schedule ever. They ran meets at Bucknell, Lehigh, Virginia and Penn State.
"The numbers don't always show it, but we have made a tremendous amount of improvement this year," Horst said. "We have set some very aggressive goals (this season), and we have worked well together."
Senior Cordelia McGinn leads the women's team into the conference meet. She was the top finisher for the Greyhounds last year at the Patriot League Championships, finishing 30th, and last month, McGinn had the best meet of her career when she took 13th place at the Paul Short Run with a time of 21:55.
"Cordelia has come a long way in a short amount of time," says Horst. "She had never run cross country before last year; she was a track runner in the 800 (meters), and she started cross country last year. Now, she sets her own goals and she loves running cross country."
Horst likes the depth on both the men's and women's teams.
"I have a pretty good idea who will be the men's top finisher and the women's top runner for us," Horst said. "Beyond that, it could be anybody wearing a Loyola uniform."
Beyond McGinn, Loyola is looking for strong performances from sophomore Kayleigh Caggiano and junior Christina Daniels. Caggiano was one of the Greyhounds' top runners at the Penn State meet and she also did well at Virginia earlier in the year. Daniels finished 40th at the Paul Short Invitational and ran well at Penn State.
Junior Courtney Wallace could also be a factor at the Patriot League meet, while Horst has been very pleased with improvement of freshman Tara Ryan. A product of Marlboro, New Jersey, Ryan placed 65th at the Paul Short Invitational and she was the team's top runner at the Penn State Meet.
Senior Alex Saffadi has led the men's squad in every meet this season. He finished 56th at the Paul Short Run and took 77th place at Penn State.
Horst is looking to count on juniors Alex Buchholz and Tyler Schoch and freshmen Sam Miller and Peter Butler to score well behind Saffadi. Buchholz took 84th place at the Paul Short Run and 89th at Penn State last week. Schoch's top performances of the year came at the Paul Short Run and the Penn State Meet.
The men's race gets underway on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and will be followed by the women's championship at 12 noon. The men's team's top finish at the Patriot League Championships is ninth, while the women have three eighth-place finishes to their credit.
On the men's side, Navy will be seeking its fifth consecutive Patriot League championship and its eighth title in the last nine years. In the women's race, Bucknell will be trying to win its third consecutive championship.