Oct. 30, 2002
ATLANTA – The Georgia Tech men’s and women’s cross country teams will play host to one the nation’s most challenging fields Saturday at the 2002 Atlantic Coast Conference Cross Country Championships at Panthersville’s Georgia Regional Hospital Cross Country Course.
The women’s six-kilometer race begins at 10 a.m., followed by the men’s 8K at 11 a.m.
The championships were held on this course in 1994 with the Jackets earning program-best finishes of third for both the men and the women. Tech hopes to have the same hometown advantage this year.
“Having been on a course, you get to know how it runs and where the areas are where you can push it and the areas where you might want to be more conservative,” said Tech head coach Alan Drosky. “That’s a benefit, no doubt about it. More important is the fact that you will be running in front of friends and family that you don’t typically get at most meets. There should be a lot of Tech people out there and that can only help. There’s excitement and energy that you draw from having that kind of support.”
The women’s field is loaded, as five of the nation’s top 16 teams hail from the ACC. Wake Forest (fourth) and two-time defending conference champion NC State (sixth) crack the top ten, while Duke (13th), North Carolina (15th) and Virginia (16th) are also ranked. Additionally, Tech started the season ranked 24th, and Florida State has been receiving votes throughout the season. On the men’s side, No. 21 NC State, the defending league champion, is the lone ranked team in the ACC.
“There’s a lot of conference meets going on this weekend all around the country and there’s not one that’s tougher than the one that we’re going to be in,” Drosky. “We’re excited about that. It was like that last year, and we know that we can run with them.”
Tech’s women are led by senior Katie Griffin, who has been the Jackets top finisher in each of her four races this season. She owns a win at the Georgia Intercollegiate Championships and a pair of runner-up finishes. Her top 5K time of the season is 16:53.56 at the Auburn Invitational. Drosky also expects strong races from senior Amy Dock, who made her season debut at Auburn, and freshman Carly Matthews, who has been the Jackets’ No. 2 runner for much of the season.
“We’re not exactly running at full strength without Renee (Metivier), but the women are really coming around,” said Drosky. “If we run like we are capable of and take advantage of the home-course advantage, then I think we have a chance to beat one of those teams.”
Metivier is redshirting this season after placing second at the ACC and NCAA Championships a year ago.
As for the Tech men, senior Brendon Mahoney should lead the way. The track All-American ran his first cross country race of the season at the Auburn Invitational and recorded a team-best time of 24:36.82. Beyond Mahoney, Tech turns to several talented freshmen along with veterans Joe Poliseo, Adam Jones and Daniel Moss. Rookie Rob Kuhn has been the Jackets’ top finisher in three races and placed first among Division I runners at the Georgia Intercollegiate Championships. He leads a group of three newcomers that should contribute to Tech’s success.
The men placed sixth last year and are without Kyle Rabbitt and Neil McDonagh, all-region performers a year ago that are redshirting this season. The Jackets also graduated a great deal of experience from last year’s group.
“It’s a very inexperienced group, and I don’t know if we can improve on that sixth-place finish,” said Drosky. “We’re going to be running the best race that we are capable of this season. Hopefully that will produce a good result.”
The top 10 finishers for both men and women receive all-conference honors. Metivier was named All-ACC a year ago with a runner-up finish, while Kevin Graham, who placed third in 1994, was the last men’s all-league choice.
Following this weekend’s action, Tech will race at the NCAA South Region Championships on November 16 in Knoxville, Tenn.
Directions to the ACC Championships are as follows:
Exit I-285 at Flat Shoals Road. Go north 0.2 miles to Panthersville Road (first traffic light). Turn left and drive 0.3 miles to Georgia Regional Hospital. Turn right into the hospital roadway and follow it to the rear of the property where the start/finish area and parking are located.