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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

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NCAA Preview
x-c trio running down their dreams

David Chorney
Chorney’s time at the Mideast Regional was 25:14, 46 seconds faster than his clocking on the same Lehigh University course at the Paul Short Run in late September.
Sara Gearin couldn’t help but dream about qualifying for the NCAA Cross Country Championships.

When former teammate Karen Mount became the first Muhlenberg female runner to compete in the national meet in 2005, she sent a souvenir t-shirt back to Gearin. The current Mule senior has the t-shirt hanging in her room and looks at it before going to bed.

On Saturday, Gearin’s dream will turn into reality when she becomes the second Muhlenberg female to run at the Division III championship meet. She will join two runners from the Mule men’s team on the trip to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. This is the first time the school has been represented by both genders in the same year.

“I’ve been waiting for this for four years,” said a thrilled Gearin, who qualified after finishing 15th at the NCAA Mideast Regional last Saturday.

The wait has been shorter for men’s runners David Chorney and Timothy Van Syckle. They competed in the national meet last year as sophomores, when the Muhlenberg men’s team received an at-large bid. They will be the first Mule runners to run in the NCAA Championships twice.

“I think it will help a lot to know what type of race it is and what the whole experience is like,” said Chorney. “We’ll be going in with more confidence; last year we were just happy to make it.”

Chorney qualified by coming in 14th at the regional, while Van Syckle was 22nd. Both runners improved their 2006 regional finish by 13 places and will look for similar improvement at the NCAAs. Last year, Van Syckle was 209th and Chorney 237th in a field of 279.

“With qualifying automatically, you feel like you’re supposed to be a part of it and you can run with anyone,” Chorney said.

Ironically, the course is the same one that head coach Will Elson ran on when he qualified for the national championships in 2002. Elson finished 94th, the best showing to date of the 11 Mules who have qualified.

Gearin attributed her success to Elson’s coaching. “He upped my mileage and put me on a lifting program,” she noted. “I’ve also been eating better and getting more sleep.

“I didn’t expect to qualify, but I felt confident [going into the regional],” she added. “I’ve been peaking for this all year, so I knew I was going to have a good race.”
Click here for the championship Web site.

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