Conference Calls: BIG EAST Cross Country Runs in the Family

Patrick and Annamarie Maag's journeys to BIG EAST cross country and track & field began at a young age. The siblings grew up two hours from Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., where Patrick and Annamarie ran all their state championships.


The experience of running at the historic track & field site, "played an important role for me and Patrick," said Annamarie." It was such an inspiration to be able to run there."


"With all of the state's running tradition, I don't think there is a more inspiring place to develop a running career," said Patrick.


BIG EAST athletics runs in the family. Katie Maag, Patrick and Annamarie's mother played volleyball at Marquette. Michael and Peter, Patrick and Annamarie's older brothers, were both cross country and track & field standouts at Princeton.


"I started running simply because my oldest brother did," said Patrick. "Once I was immersed in the culture of distance running I couldn't get away."


Patrick and Annamarie both attended Jesuit High School in Portland Ore., and both chose Jesuit institutions for college, Marquette and Georgetown, respectively. With a strong regional connection to cross country in Oregon, family ties to the BIG EAST and a strong Jesuit tradition at Marquette and Georgetown, the siblings set out for BIG EAST cross country competition.


Patrick is now a senior at Marquette. A 2012 co-captain, Patrick has been a consistent runner for the Golden Eagles. The senior finished in the top 5 for Marquette in five of seven races as a junior, including a season-best of 25:06.50 on the 8k course at the Greater Louisville Classic.


"Patrick has been a great leader for our team," said Marquette cross country head coach Mike Nelson. "His work ethic is outstanding and that attitude spreads throughout the team."


After tying the squad's best finish all-time at the BIG EAST Cross Country Championships in 2011, the Golden Eagles placed eighth at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional, their best finish since 2007. Marquette returns 13 letterwinners this season. Despite losing top finishers Peter Bolgert and Blake Johnson to graduation, the Golden Eagles finished first at the NIU Huskie Invite on Sept. 7 and placed fourth at the National Catholic Championship on Sept. 14.  


"I've enjoyed every moment at Marquette outside of my athletic experience, which adds to the tremendous opportunities that running in the BIG EAST has given me," said Patrick. "The chance to compete against elite athletes from around the world, while getting everything I wanted from a Jesuit education has been something I wouldn't trade for anything."


Annamarie is a sophomore at Georgetown. As a freshman, she was a part of the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championship victory for Georgetown. Her time of 21:25 on the 6K course made her the sixth of seven finishers for the Hoyas.


"The atmosphere here at Georgetown is really close," said Annamarie.  "It's really important to all of us on the team."


"I think [Annamarie] had her year to be a freshman, and now she's got a great collegiate career ahead of her, said Georgetown women's cross country Head Coach Michael Smith. "This is the defending national championship team, and her teammates are running at a very high caliber. To have her come back after the summer in the shape that she's in is just really phenomenal."


Georgetown women's cross country began the season with a No. 3 national ranking. The Hoyas are currently ranked No. 4 after finishing first at the Dartmouth Invitational on Sept. 8.


"We'd like to go after that national championship again, but we'd like to just improve as a team, so we're all excited about the end of the season," said Annamarie. "I want to do everything I can for the team. Being part of such a talented team is really important to me, and it gets me pumped up everyday for practice."


In her quest to improve and fight for a second national championship, Annamarie says her brothers are behind her all the way. "I wouldn't say there's any competition between us.  We're all really supportive of each other. My brothers have always been my biggest fans and I've been theirs.  Ever since we started running we've always supported each other a ton. It's helped all of us become better runners, because we've been there for each other more than trying to out-do each other."


Patrick echoes Annamarie saying, "I learned from the example my older siblings set, and the dedication they showed me fostered my desire to improve. All my siblings have been able to compete on the national stage in college, and it has only grown my desire to do the same."