Mid-Atlantic Regional: Men's and Women's Preview

October 24th, 2019

Penn State looks poised to sweep the team awards but will face stiff competition. Will Suzanne Stein be dethroned or continue to dominate?

Mid-Atlantic Regional Preview - Women (Frederick, MD)

Penn State is looking to claim their seventh consecutive Mid-Atlantic Regional title. They return three runners from their top five at this meet last year, including the first and second overall individuals in the National Champion Suzanne Stein and Baylee Robey. If that’s not convincing enough of their dominance of the region, their results from this season should be. At their home meet, the Nittany Lions (25 points) won solidly over Princeton in second (49 points). Penn State averaged 24:02, led by Baylee Robey (23:18) and Chloe Connor (23:42). Stein had a slower-than-typical start to her season, finishing sixth overall as Penn State’s fourth runner. However, Stein ran a time of 21:45 in non-NIRCA competition at Lehigh University’s Paul Short Run, so expect her to be in form this weekend. At Paul Short, Penn State averaged an impressive 22:55 with a spread of 2:02 separating their top five runners.

Princeton has placed second to Penn State at Regionals the last three years, and are surely hungry to turn the tables this year. They return three runners from the top 30 at Regionals last year, Barrett Gray, fourth, Carlota Corbella, 18th, and Catherine Song, 21st. Gray has been leading the team this year, placing third at the Nittany Lion Invitational and first at the Princeton Invite. In the latter, Princeton also took home the team title, winning their home meet with their top five finishers finishing 1-6-10-15-16. To take down Penn State this year, they’ll need big races from both Gray and the rest of their top five runners.

Georgetown started out their season with a victory at the DC Invite in a narrow race over Maryland and Virginia, led by Nell Haney who finished second overall. Despite finishing only seventh at the Cavalier Invite, they appeared to be missing some of their top runners, including Haney. With a full team this weekend, they’ll be looking to contend for a spot on the podium this weekend.

Virginia Tech had a solid victory this past weekend, winning the Cavalier Invitational with 63 points over Virginia (82 points). They were led by Elizabeth Buckley and Katherine Wardinski who finished second and third overall, respectively. Sarah Seay placed sixth overall as Tech’s third runner before a larger gap to their fourth and fifth runners. With some big races this weekend to close the gap to Seay, Tech could be in position for an upset.

Maryland and Virginia have both had impressive seasons, finishing second and third respectively at the DC Invite. This past weekend at the Cavalier Invite, Maryland placed fourth (but only had five runners total in the race) while Virginia placed second to Virginia Tech. Expect these two teams to make a strong push for the podium.

Looking at the individual competition, the conversation has to start with Suzanne Stein, the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Regional and National Champion in cross country. Other top returners include Baylee Robey (Penn State), Barrett Gray (Princeton), and Elizabeth Buckley (Virginia Tech). They’ll be racing against Emma Martin (American University; first at DC Invite) and Caroline Roumpz (Pittsburgh; first at Nittany Lion Invitational) for the individual title.

 

Prediction:

Teams: Penn State wins their 7th straight title. Princeton finishes 2nd, while Virginia Tech rounds out the podium in 3rd.

Individuals: Suzanne Stein repeats as champion and returns to the top of the podium heading into Nationals. Caroline Roumpz of Pittsburgh finishes 2nd with Baylee Robey of Penn State in 3rd.

 

 

Mid-Atlantic Regional Preview - Men (Frederick, MD)

Penn State has been the team to beat in the Mid-Atlantic region the last couple years. The team has captured the last two men’s Mid-Atlantic Regional titles in which all the runners stayed on the correct course (2016 and 2018). They also come in as the top-finishing Mid-Atlantic team from the 2018 NIRCA Cross Country National Championships. They return five runners from the top 30 at the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Regionals, including Joseph Clark (5th), Raymond Friend (10th), Andrew Hanna (12th), Matthew Balogh (17th), and Nicholas Deamer (29th).

This year, they finished first as a team at their home meet, the Nittany Invitational. They were led by Andrew Hanna (2nd, 26:00) and Raymond Friend (5th, 26:40). In non-NIRCA competitions, Joseph Clark has posted times of 24:57 at the Lock Haven Invitational and 24:47 at Paul Short. In those meets, Penn State posted team averages of 25:55 and 25:51, respectively, with their top five separated by 1:40 and 1:45. Penn State was also without one of their top returners (Raymond Friend) at Paul Short, which likely raised their average time.

University of Maryland returns two runners from last year’s top 30 at the Mid-Atlantic Regionals: Brian McCullough (25th) and Colin Sybing (27th). Despite that, the team has been running impressively this season. In September, the team placed second at the DC Invite, just five points behind the University of Virginia. In non-NIRCA competition, the team had an average time of 25:59 at the Paul Short Invitational with a spread of only 0:42 amongst their top five (if looking up the results, note that Maryland’s second runner in this meet, Rylan Flint, was entered as unattached). That’s slightly slower than Penn State’s 25:51 average in the same race, but a much tighter spread. If Maryland hopes to take the title this year, they’ll need to rely on depth like that to outplace the other teams with their fourth and fifth runners. That’s how Maryland won the Cavalier Invite this past weekend with their top five runners finishing 6-7-8-9-12 to win narrowly (42 points) over Virginia (45 points) and Virginia Tech (48 points).

Virginia Tech was second at 2018 Mid-Atlantic Regionals. While they lost Connor Lee and Harrison Wood who placed first and second, respectively, in that meet (Joshua Fard - 20th is their only returner from the top 30), they have a new runner who’ll be looking to battle for the individual title this weekend. Sam Lebahn won at the Charlotte McAlpine Trail Race by a margin of 13 seconds over Zack Holden of Virginia and at the Cavalier Invite with a time of 25:11 - winning by 53 seconds. Virginia Tech won the team title at Charlotte and placed 3rd as a team at the Cavalier Invite. With Lebahn in position to battle for the win this weekend, Tech will need the rest of their pack to close the gap if they want to finish on top of the podium this year.

Virginia placed third at Regionals last year and returns Zack Holden (eighth in 2018) and Ian Iverson (18th) from that team. This year, they won the DC Invite over an impressive Maryland team, outscoring them 30 to 35. Zack Holden led that performance, finishing first overall. At the Charlotte McAlpine Trail Race, Virginia (66 points) placed second to Virginia Tech (22 points). However, they were able to edge VT by three points at the Cavalier Invitational to finish second to Maryland. Holden finished second overall while Andy Goodstein finished third to give them two solid frontrunners.

Princeton placed second to Penn State at the Nittany Lion Invitational, but won their home meet this past weekend with just 34 points and an impressive average time of 26:30 and a spread of 0:56 seconds across their top five runners. They’ll surely be looking to reach the podium and knock off some of the other teams listed above.

In terms of the individual competition, the top returner from 2018 is Samuel Schroeder of George Washington University who placed third last year (25:56). This year, Schroeder has finished tenth at the DC Invite and fourth at the Princeton Invitational (26:00). The other top returners include Joseph Clark of Penn State (24:47 at Paul Short) and Zack Holden of Virginia (26:04 at Cavalier Invite). They’ll have to battle it out with Sam Lebahn of Virginia Tech (25:11 at Cavalier Invite) and Andrew Lent of Maryland (25:34 at Paul Short). While Clark appears to have the fastest time on the season, Lebahn has been winning races by an incredible margin.

 

Prediction:

Teams: Penn State defends their title, holding off Maryland in 2nd. Virginia Tech places 3rd led by a big race from Sam Lebahn.

Individuals: Sam Lebahn continues his winning streak to hold off Joseph Clark of Penn State. Samuel Schroeder of George Washington closes out the top 3.


Michael Potter, NIRCA

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