Army wins second straight women’s XC ‘Star’ meet

October 22nd, 2020 | Army and Community Sports, Sports
For the second consecutive season, the Army West Point women’s cross country team (above) defeated service academy rival Navy at the Army-Navy ‘Star’ Meet to kick off the 2020-21 Army-Navy ‘Star’ Series presented by USAA. For the third meet in a row, freshmen Georgia Jones and Helen Shearer led the charge for the Black Knights, placing second and third respectively en route to a 27-29 win for the Black Knights at the USNA Cross Country Course at the Naval Academy’s golf course Saturday at Annapolis, Md.

By Nick Lovera
Army Athletic Communications

For the second consecutive season, the Army West Point women’s cross country team defeated service academy rival Navy at the Army-Navy ‘Star’ Meet to kick off the 2020-21 Army-Navy ‘Star’ Series presented by USAA.
For the third meet in a row, freshmen Georgia Jones and Helen Shearer led the charge for the Black Knights, placing second and third respectively en route to a 27-29 win for the Black Knights at the USNA Cross Country Course at the Naval Academy’s golf course Saturday at Annapolis, Maryland.
The pair have been superb to start their Army careers, with Jones placing first and Shearer placing second on the team in each of Army’s three meets this season.
Depth was key for the Black Knights in the race, as the Cadets claimed six of the top ten positions. Navy held a five-point lead late in the meet before key moves by the Black Knights led the team to victory.
Freshman Sophia Sandy was the third cadet to cross the line, placing sixth overall, while senior captain Mika Andrews placed seventh. Sophomores Sarah Grodin and Alexandra Gibbs finished ninth and 10th, respectively, to round out the top ten.
This marks Army’s first women’s ‘Star’ Meet victory at the Naval Academy since 2010, which was also the last time the Black Knights defeated Navy in consecutive seasons.
It also marks just the fifth win by the Black Knights at the Naval Academy. Army’s senior class has now won three out of their four cross country ‘Star’ Meets, becoming the first class to achieve that feat since the class of 2005 won all four of their ‘Star’ Meets.
Jones’ second place finish was the best by an Army freshman in the ‘Star’ Meet since Bethany Nunnery won the individual title in 2016. Navy senior Emily Craig placed first in the race for the second consecutive season.

Coach’s Corner: Head Coach Mike Smith
“It was an extraordinary win for our women today. It has been historically difficult for us to win this meet on this course. Going into today we had only won the meet at Annapolis four times (1986, 2002, 2004, 2010).
“Today marks win number five and it was a hard fought win by a very narrow margin. In fact, we have won three out of the last four of these star meets on the women’s side and each of those wins has come by two points or fewer. That fact alone illustrates how important it is for us to be on our game in order to win. The two teams are remarkably similar and in a dual meet format mistakes are magnified.
“We were behind 30-25 with a mile to go and still down 29-27 with 400m to go. Mika and Sophia passed the same Navy runner over the last 2’ of the race and that sealed the win for us. In the end, we made very few mistakes today and the risks that we took paid off.
“Our training this fall has been very deliberate in preparation for this day. I knew what to expect from this course, but each kid on our team only gets two shots to run on this course in their career and that makes it a great challenge to understand it especially if you are young and this is your first time racing it. It is very hilly, has a lot of turns and lacks rhythm so you have to be in it mentally the whole way or you will get chewed up. I was really impressed with how our plebes handled the moment today and the course.
“I expected Georgia and Helen to lead us, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Sophia up there with Mika. Both Georgia and Helen are relatively new to cross country which makes their achievements all that more remarkable. I know I have said it before, but it cannot be overstated how impressive it is to have two young women that were soccer players in high school step into the biggest rivalry in collegiate sport and perform as if they have been there before.
“Our top three today (Georgia, Helen, Sophia) were plebes and this was the first time they had ever run the 6km distance. When you factor in the enormity of the ‘Star’ Meet and the fact that we are in a pandemic, their performances today are extraordinary in the extreme. I am impressed with them for what they stand for as Cadets, but they took it to whole different level today. We are just scratching the surface with what they are capable of.
“… The women feel pretty good about the outcome today but they know we have to get better if we want to be successful in our next race. We have just over three weeks to prepare for Air Force and Navy on The Plain in what will prove to be a once in a lifetime event. We have work to do.”