Oct. 10, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. – After two weeks of recovery and preparation, Army cross country will return to competition on Saturday when it travels to Annapolis, Md., for the annual Star Meet against academy rival Navy. The men’s 8K race is slated for 11 a.m., and will be followed by the women’s 6K at 11:30.
Weather reports for Saturday indicate sunny skies and temperatures around 60 degrees, a welcomed change from last year’s rain-soaked and soggy conditions at West Point. The Midshipmen swept that meet, capturing the women’s race 25-31, and the men’s meet 19-37. Navy’s sweep in 2011 was its first since 2007.
The Black Knights will look to turn the tide in their favor this season, as the women aim for their third win in four years, while the men look to snap the Midshipmen’s three-meet winning streak. Navy leads both all-time series, including a 45-28-1 advantage on the men’s side (since 1937), and a 16-10 edge on the women’s (since 1986).
The Army men return four of their top-seven finishers from the 2011 meet, led by junior Ricardo Galindo who earned the Black Knights’ No. 2 time and placed fifth overall a season ago. Galindo has earned Army’s top time in all four meets this season, including the most recent race at the Paul Short Run on Sept. 28.
Senior James Hodgen has been the Black Knights’ No. 2 runner all season as well, and crossed the line 15th overall at the 2011 Star Meet. Army has gotten added strength from senior Mark Castelli, who missed all of last season recovering from surgery. Castelli has finished among the top-five Black Knights in all four races this season, including a pair of No. 3 times.
Three of Army’s top-seven finishers from the 2011 women’s Star Meet are expected to make in impact in this season’s meet, including the Black Knights’ lead finisher against Navy last season in junior Liz O’Donnell. O’Donnell has had dominant showings in each of the Star Meets she has competed in during her time at West Point, finishing third overall in 2011 and eighth as a freshman in 2010. She has been among the top-three Black Knights in all four meets this season.
Sophomore Lisa Junta, who finished fifth for Army and 11th overall at the 2011 Star Meet, has collected the Black Knights’ top finish at all four meets this season, with her most comfortable lead coming at the first meet of the season, the Army Open. Junta won the individual title by besting the No. 2 finisher by over one minute. Senior Mary Prakel was Army’s No. 2 runner behind Junta at the most recent meet, the Paul Short Run. Prakel, the team captain, has improved her finish among the Black Knights through every race this season.
Only the Army-Navy women have gotten a glimpse at each other so far in 2012, at the Paul Short Run on Sept. 28 in Bethlehem, Pa. The Midshipmen earned the edge in that meet, placing 10th of 40 teams, while the Black Knights finished 23rd. Junta was Army’s top finisher in 47th place overall, while Navy sophomore Annie-Norah Beveridge placed 15th.
The Army-Navy Star Meets mark the end of the regular season for cross country. The Black Knights will have two weeks to prepare for the 2012 Patriot League Championships, which are slated for Oct. 27, and will be hosted by Colgate in Hamilton, N.Y.