WASHINGTON – The Gallaudet University men’s and women’s cross country program has grown steadily under the direction of head coach Mikaela Hudson in just three short years. Hudson’s proactive recruiting has helped with the increase in numbers for both teams and better quality runners entering the program. The new found depth, motivated runners and a determined coach has the Bison cross country program poised to gain traction in the North Eastern Athletic Conference and improve every single meet.
“This season the men’s team is stronger than we have ever been and well rounded thanks to the excellent depth,” said Hudson, now entering her third season at the helm. “There is potential within the women’s team. Although a smaller team compared to the men’s team, I do expect team chemistry and courage of our new runners to help propel us to good showing this season.”
Here is a breakdown of the men’s and women’s cross country teams.
The GU men’s cross country team, while still young, has the depth needed to help push everyone and provide rest when needed as the team prepares for the season, with a focus on the NEAC championships.
“Our goals are to pick up where we left off last season, determined. We continually improved upon personal bests and many of our men landed on Gallaudet’s all-time Top 10 times list in program history,” said Hudson. “Although a young team, we have our sights set to perform well at the NEAC championships as well at return to the NCAA Regional Championship meet.”
Last season saw the emergence of two freshmen runners in Alex Close (Tallahassee, Fla.) and Ivan Alfaro (Yakima, Wash.). Close placed 13th overall at the NEAC championships to earn all-conference second team honors while Alfaro just missed all-conference by one spot. The freshmen duo went onto the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional, gained valuable experience that will be important this year. The pair will anchor and lead the men’s team during the 2013 season.
“Ivan showed tremendous growth last season, which he carried right into his first track and field season. Ivan is a 4.0 [grade point average] student-athlete, team captain and all around leader,” said Hudson. “Alex, although troubled with an injury, is also a great student-athlete and team leader. Both are leading the team to what I expect to be an exciting season. All-conference finishes are on the radar for these two as well as a few others.”
Junior Chris Davis (Stillwater, Okla.) is on the cusp of trying to crack all-conference this season after showing great improvements during the 2012 season. Davis was a valuable team member that helped secure key team points during the meets last year.
New faces to the team this season that should make an impact and fight to be in Gallaudet’s Top 5 runners at meets include Michael Clark (Portland, Ore.), Michael Hokanson (Eau Claire, Wis.), Gabriel Carino (Bronx, N.Y.) Patrick Shea (Lawron, Okla.) and Braden Forbes (DeLand, Fla.). The Bison enter the 2013 season with 16 runners on the men’s roster, a far cry from the single digit rosters the Bison fielded from 2011 and back. This year’s men’s team has 10 more runners than Hudson’s first men’s team had in 2011.
“The depth will certainly go a long way this season,” said Hudson. “I have already noticed the benefits of our depth during practices. We are able to push ourselves and go after it! The depth of our roster prevents over racing our athletes, keeping us strong and healthy for the NEAC championships.”
In the past three years the Gallaudet women’s cross country team has been able to rely on a trio of runners and entering the 2013 season they return once more. Seniors Radoslava Slavova (Scranton, Pa.) and Shadoe Williamson (Austin, Texas) and junior Rachel Young (Leesburg, Va.) will help bring the team together and take new runners under their wings. Slavova is the women’s team captain this year. Young, entering her third year with the program, is primed for a breakout season.
“Each season Rachel has shown improvement. She really committed to her summer training and it shows,” said Hudson, who is also Gallaudet’s track and field coach. “Rachel is strong and ready to compete in our meets this season and improve on her personal best times.”
“Crystal and Allison are both new to the team but the pair came to camp conditioned and ready for this season,” said Hudson.
Gallaudet will kick-off the season in Dallas, Pa., at the Misercordia Invitational on Friday, Aug. 30. The Bison will then rest for several weeks before running at the Penn St.-Abington Invitational on Sept. 21 against NEAC teams. A week later, the team travels to Marcy, N.Y., and the site of this year’s NEAC championships being hosted by SUNYIT as the Bison teams run in the SUNYIT Invitational.
The month of October begins with Gallaudet running at the Christopher Newport University Invitational on Oct. 12 at the Lee Hall Mansion in Newport News, Va. The closes meet to Kendall Green takes place on Oct. 19 when the Bison run at the Hood College Open Meet at Utica Park in Frederick, Md. That is Gallaudet’s last meet before the NEAC championships slated for Nov. 2. There will be a two-week break before the NCAA Division III South/Southeast Regional Championship being hosted on Nov. 16 back at Lee Hall Mansion in Newport News, Va.
“I have a good feeling that the men’s and women’s teams will gel well together. I know it is early on into our season but I am very impressed by the team leadership and close bonds being formed,” said Hudson. “We just need to stay focused and committed to our training and continue to build!”