After coming off a second place finish in their season opener and a sixth place showing in their last meet, the Terps will take an undermanned Maryland Cross Country squad to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to compete in the Paul Short Run.
The actual race itself will be a 6K, longer than the traditional 5K race at most meets. For many of the athletes on the team, it could serve as the longest race of their collegiate careers.
While Maryland started the season strong with several key performances from their underclassmen athletes, the team might take a backseat in Bethlehem. The Terps will be traveling without a few of their top athletes, including freshman standout Katie Altieri, according to coach Andrew Valmon.
Valmon said the reason for the athletes’ absence is a non-COVID-19 related illness. They are expected to return in time for their next race.
In their absences, Maryland will be sending senior Sarah Daniels, juniors Anna Coffin and Samantha Facius, sophomores Katie Ericson, Kirstin Nichols, and Sophia Zell and freshmen Emma Pegg, Allison Colflesh, Katie Turk and Katerina Talanova to compete.
Pegg, who had not participated in the first two meets, will be competing for the first time in her collegiate athletic career.
Valmon noted that Friday’s meet will be a lighter one for the Terps, who are preparing for the Big Ten Championship a few weeks down the line.
It should serve as another learning experience for some of the younger athletes, Valmon said, until the team is ready to go “full throttle” at Penn State, the location of their next meet and the upcoming Big Ten Championship.
But that’s not to say Friday’s meet won’t be taken seriously.
For Daniels, the race will be about competing for her sick teammates.
“It’s definitely a bummer not having a full squad tomorrow, but I think it will still be a great opportunity and learning experience for everyone toeing the line tomorrow,” Daniels said. “We are going into it with the mindset of racing for our teammates at home and focusing on getting better each meet.”
One of the team’s seasoned veterans and the only senior scheduled to compete tomorrow, Daniels should look to lead the charge for the Terps just as she did at the Virginia Invitational, along with Altieri.
In that meet, Daniels took a 19th-place finish with a time of 18:26.7 to give Maryland 18 of their 142 points.
For others, it will be a chance to get their feet wet and continue gaining competitive experience just as Valmon said.
The meet is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. The Terps’ following meet will take place at Penn State, serving as a precursor for the Big Ten Championships.