Oct. 31, 2008
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The University of Maryland men's and women's cross country teams head into the championship phase of their seasons on Saturday when the Terrapins travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., for the Atlantic Coast Conference Cross Country Championships.
"Since the summer, everything has been pointing toward this month," said assistant track coach Terry Weir. "All year, we've talked about November 1st kicks off the championship season."
The races will take place on Saturday morning on the University of North Carolina's courses, which Weir calls "flat and fast." The men will run over eight kilometers, with the women covering a 6K course.
Each Maryland team placed ninth in last year's team standings, a mark Weir and head track and field coach Andrew Valmon hopes this year's Terps can top.
Weir points to the experience the women had in their last outing, a team victory at the Princeton Invitational two weeks ago, as evidence the team is showing improvement.
"I think building off the momentum of our last meet and taking that into the ACC, we're peaking at the right time," said Weir. "We're running faster than we ever have. I'm very excited going into the ACC Championships."
Leading a solid group for the women is junior Erin Matyus, who won the individual title at the Princeton meet. She has led the Terps in each of the last two meets this season and was Maryland's top finisher behind now-graduated senior Meghan Braffet at last year's ACCs.
Matyus is part of a junior-laden lineup that also has Kristen Reed having posted three top-10 finishes this year, including a second behind only Matyus at Princeton. Lindsay Ritchings has been in the top 10 in each of her two previous races this season.
For the men, junior Greg Kelsey earned All Mid-Atlantic Region status with his finish at last year's NCAA Regional and was the Terrapins' top finisher at last year's ACCs. He placed 24th at the 2007 ACC meet at Virginia.
This year, he has three top-10 finishes on the stat sheet, including a second-place finish two weeks ago at Princeton. He has been the Terps' top finisher in each of the last two races.
He's joined at the top of the Maryland lineup by Alex Lundy. The sophomore from Colorado has twice been named the ACC Male Performer of the Week after each of Maryland's first two outings of the year, winning the individual title at the Mount St. Mary's Duals and placing second at the Navy Invitational.
"We've got those two guys leading the way," said Weir. "We had huge breakthrough races from them at Princeton. I think they're very confident and excited to run their best at the ACCs."
Maryland has solid depth at the Nos. 3 through 7 spots, with a number of runners being relatively interchangeable. Juniors Kevin Gahr, Joe Simpson and Mike Cator, senior Richie Booth and sophomore Drew Abernathy have been picking each other up as a solid group behind the other two.
"This is probably the deepest team Maryland has had on both sides in a long time," said Weir. "That's going to be one of our strong points on Saturday. Anyone in the top seven can run well and score well for us."