Sept. 14, 2010
By Matt Winkeljohn
The goal among the men is to be closer, which last week presented Georgia Tech cross country coach Alan Drosky with a problem. A dual meet with Georgia looms this Thursday, after all, and he suffered a painful reminder early last season when the Bulldogs beat his men’s and women’s squads handily.
“[Last year], we had Swine Flu rampant and a dose of disciplinary issues so we had a lot of people missing,” Drosky said. “Late last week I sensed a couple people coming down with a cold or a bug, and I was trying to get everybody away from each other so it wouldn’t spread.”
In their season-opening meet two weeks ago at the UGA Invitational, over the same course the harriers will run Thursday, the men finished third and the women were fourth.
This will be the third consecutive year the teams have met in a dual meet (rare in the sport), and UGA has won each time, both in men’s and women’s competitions. The Yellow Jackets are trying to do something about that. The men in particular have changed approaches. They had a pasta dinner among themselves last week as part of this.
“Me and my roommate [teammate Mark Mendrek-Laske], we’re both fourth-years and we decided we weren’t real happy with how divided the team seemed to be,” said senior D.J. McMillan. “You had the freshmen hanging out with the freshmen, the sophomores with the sophomores. We figured we’d invite everybody to this party, and bond. Even in races, we feel like we’re not trying to compete with each other.”
Mary Kate DuBard and Betsy Kim, who did not compete two weeks ago, will be in action for the first time Thursday, when Drosky expects to have all athletes available. “They’re two of our best,” the coach said. “They should be first and second or first and third for us. They had late starts to their training seasons.”
Drosky and Georgia coach Jeff Pigg have a long history. They were rivals in college, when Drosky ran for Tech and Pigg for Florida in the late 1980s, and they have been close friends for years. Their relationship is why the duals began in 2008.
Their competitive nature has bled into their athletes as reflected in team goals. “Last year at ACCs, we placed eighth, and we definitely want to better that . . . try to place top six,” McMillan said. “We want to improve our [personal bests], improve at regionals . . . and of course beat UGA whenever we can. We plan on going out a little more aggressive Thursday. [Two weeks ago] the course was different than last year so we’ll be more familiar with it. That’ll help.”