Aug. 8, 2014
THE FLATS – Head coach Alan Drosky announced the 2014 Georgia Tech cross country schedule on Wednesday that features seven meets. The Yellow Jackets kick off the season at the UGA Invitational on Sept. 6.
“We’re excited about the schedule,” Drosky said. “With the focus on being ready for the end of the year meets, the ACC Championships and NCAA South Regional, we wanted to stay closer to home and limit our travel, yet we wanted to make sure we lined up against quality teams on courses that are somewhat challenging.”
Following the UGA Invitational, the Yellow Jackets run in the Florida Mountain Dew Invitational in Gainesville, Fla. (Sept. 20) and the Upstate Invitational in Spartanburg, S.C. (Oct. 4).
“With the meets at Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, we’ll see most of the better teams in the south region,” Drosky said. “The meet at USC-Upstate will be a little change of pace with a smaller meet, but on rolling terrain and with good competition.
“Traveling takes a toll on a team over the course of a season, so staying closer to home will keep us fresher. The terrain and level of competition will prepare us for the more important end of the season meets.”
The Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Oct. 17 will be Georgia Tech’s final tune up before it heads back to Earlysville, Va. for the ACC Championships hosted by Virginia. The Yellow Jackets have been successful at the Crimson Classic in the past, as the men’s team won the meet in 2011 and 2012.
The NCAA South Regionals are set for Nov. 14 in Tallahassee, Fla. and the NCAA Championships are Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind.
Senior Katie Townsend, who finished first for Georgia Tech in all six meets she ran in, returns for the women. There is a solid mix of upperclassmen in Caroline Kissel, Allison Brackin, Kelly Meyer and Laura Nelson, along with sophomores Melissa Fairey and Hayley Keadey, who all ran big personal bests for 5000m last track season.
“For the women, we expect Katie Townsend to lead us again as well,” Drosky said. “But there is a large group of women closing the gap behind Katie and some will challenge her at the number one spot. The depth of the women’s team has improved greatly over the last year and this year’s group has the potential to be the strongest squad we’ve had in a number of years.”
Middle distance runners Morgan Jackson, Rachel Hammond and Laura Serres, are all capable of contributing. Kaylee Isaacs has been in Georgia Tech’s top seven the last two years and is tough in cross country, along with Diana Pressel, who is capable of contributing this season.
“Even beyond that large group are some talented ladies, any of which could step up into our top seven,” Drosky said. “For the newcomers, similar to the men, we’ll be looking to see who is ready to compete as a freshman, with Haley Anderson and Charlotte Stephens looking to be the most-likely at this point.”
The men’s cross country team sees the return of Brandon Lasater and Jeremy Greenwald, who earned NCAA South All-Region honors last season. The last time the Tech men placed at least two members on the All-Region team came in 2001.
“Jeremy comes off an outstanding track season where he qualified for the NCAA Nationals so he has had a later start than normal with his summer training,” Drosky said. “Brandon raced even later at the USA Nationals and then addressed an issue with his foot, so he also has had a later start. Alec Clifford is healthy and will play a major role for the team.
“Behind those three we have a capable and large group of upperclassmen and sophomores who redshirted their freshman season. For newcomers, we’ll have to make a decision early on about who might contribute this year. Nahom Solomon and Matt Munns probably have the best chance right away but we’ll evaluate all of them in the first couple of weeks.”