Friday, October 14, 2011

Infeld and Georgetown Big Challengers for Reid and Villanova

Infeld Leading GU To New Heights

By Ashwin Wadekar
Hoya Staff Writer

Friday, October 14, 2011

Georgetown legend Patrick Ewing, whose illustrious NBA career was only outshined by the impact he had on the Hoyas' basketball program, was named an All-American four times in his college career.

Senior Emily Infeld has received that honor seven times — and she still has a year to go.

No, Infeld is not a seventh-year senior. She simply competes for the Hoyas throughout the year. A standout athlete in high school, Infeld has continued her success on the Hilltop in cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track.

In 2010, Infeld finished in the top 10 individually at the national cross-country championships, as well as in both the 3K and 5K events in indoor track. Last year, Infeld finished second at nationals in both cross-country and the 3K to Villanova's Sheila Reid, who is also returning for a final year.

But according to Assistant Coach Chris Miltenberg, that won't necessarily be the case this year.

"If you look at Emily and Sheila's races, they were closest at the NCAA meet," Miltenberg said. "My hope is that she's a year stronger and older and gotten racing experience, and that's going to help her a lot. They're arguably the two best collegiate cross-country runners of all time."

Part of this experience came last summer, when Infeld competed in the USA Track & Field outdoor championships, clocking a time of 4:08 in the 1500m. Her time was good enough for eighth place and was tops among collegiate racers.

"I think running [my time] last year in the USAs was one of my biggest accomplishments for me," Infeld said.

But looking forward, Infeld is more concerned about the Hoyas' team performance this year than bettering Reid and the rest of the NCAA field.

"Finishing in fourth in [the NCAA national tournament] last year was a huge accomplishment," Infeld said. "If we keep on doing what we're doing day in and day out, all the little things … we can get a national championship."

The team certainly had high expectations, garnering a preseason No. 1 ranking for the first time ever. The honor put the team in unfamiliar territory — at the top.

"[The ranking] is exciting. … Our team can be underrated many times," Infeld said. "But we also like being the underdogs and not having the No. 1 spot on us."

After a fourth-place finish at the Paul Short Invitational two weeks ago, the women's team slipped to No. 5 in the rankings. But Miltenberg thinks the fall is a blessing in disguise for the team.

"I've already seen a big change in these guys, knowing we'll be the underdogs again," Miltenberg said. "It's what we're used to."

And the Hoyas will approach their new ranking with a new — and finally healthy — squad this weekend.

"This is the first time we've put a full team out there, or even close to one," Miltenberg said.

The team has battled a barrage of minor injuries, but Miltenberg is confident that the team is almost back to full health. In fact, Infeld herself has yet to race this year but will look to get back into the flow of competition this weekend at the Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind.

"Infeld is doing great," Miltenberg said. "Her hip flexor was sore for a few days, but now she's doing fantastic. This weekend is really going to be like a starting point for her."'

The Blue and Gray look to continue to use the game plan they have executed multiple times this year. The strategy calls for conservative pacing through the first 5k to allow the runners to track down their opponents over the last three kilometers.

"One thing I love about our team is that pace doesn't really matter," Infeld said. "We have a bunch of really great athletes, so it's good to run together as a team."

Although Miltenberg plans to be cautious with Infeld, he still expects her to handle the pacing.

"I think the pack she'll be running with will be the lead pack," Miltenberg said. "She's always great at coming from behind and finishing well."

The men's team, which will travel to Wisconsin, will employ a similar pacing. The event, the adidas Invitational, boasts the toughest and deepest competition the Hoyas will face — including the national tournament.

"It's a 42-team field, and most of the top 25 teams will be there," Assistant Coach Michael Banks said. "Our pacing worked well at the Paul Short [Invitational, the team's last event], where we beat a lot of opponents ranked higher than us, so we're in a great position to train hard and not worry about the actual outcome."

For the men, the team will consist of a mixture of experience and youth. The Hoyas will rely on performances from senior Mark Dennin and junior Andrew Springer, but Banks is most excited about a pair of freshmen — Omar Kaddurah and John Murray.

"They're all training really well," Banks said. "Springer is very fit and Mark Dennin is going to continue getting better and better every single week. But I'm looking to see if the two freshmen, Murray and Omar, can really bounce back after their performance in the Paul Short."

The leadership that the juniors and seniors show will be instrumental in developing the younger athletes on the team, a concept Infeld clearly understands.

"We've gotten really good recruiting classes," Infeld said. "We have a huge sophomore and freshman class, which is a big advantage. The girls have obviously done very well for themselves … Everybody contributes a lot, and as a team, we have a lot of great girls who all want to work hard and do well."

But Infeld knows that talent and hard work alone will not replace the experience and accomplishments of the graduating students.

"Right now, I'm just trying to be a good leader and role model for my teammates," Infeld said. "We're trying to work together and help everybody out. People have off days and rough days in our sport, so it's important to know and remember that."

And even though Georgetown will lose a seven-time All-American, Infeld's leadership and experience will not be lost on the program – which, thanks to her, has a brighter future than ever before.

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