Geneseo cross-country earns berths in NCAAs

Last Saturday the Geneseo women's cross-country team won the Division III Atlantic Regional meet, giving them an automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Championship meet.

Geneseo beat second place SUNY Cortland by a score of 64-72. Freshman Alyssa Smith came up big for the Knights with a sixth place finish overall, crossing the finish line with a time of 23:23.

"This was easily her best race ever," said head coach Mike Woods.

Senior Laura Iafrati placed ninth overall with a time of 23:30 and juniors Erin Marks and Danielle Hunt placed 10th and 11th, crossing in 23:33 and 23:36, respectively. Hunt finished just over a second ahead of Cortland's Brittany Brunetto to preserve the victory for Geneseo. Senior Lisa Halloran completed the five scoring runners with a 28th place time of 24:23.

After placing behind Cortland and New York University in their regional on Saturday, the men's team was unable to win an automatic bid, but received one of the five at-large bids given out to the Atlantic region by the NCAA selection committee on Sunday.

"Our fifth and sixth runners didn't have a great start, but I knew that if we got third we were going to get a bid," said Woods. "I think with a better start we would've beaten NYU."

Junior Tim Chichester led the way for the Geneseo runners, with a fourth place individual finish in a time of 25:46.

"The conditions of the course were far from ideal and mud had once been my downfall," said Chichester in an e-mail. "But I set those feelings aside and let thoughts of my successful training, talented teammates and dedicated coach empower me throughout the race."

"Tim did a great job of breaking up Cortland's pack and had the race of his life," Wood said. "He was projected to finish 13th or 14th but he had a great kick and blew by at least 10 guys over the last 400 meters."

Senior Brett Dolan was the second Geneseo runner to finish with a time of 26:21 that put him in 17th place overall. Junior Jesse Berube was 20th in 26:25, sophomore Tom Reubens finished just a tenth of a second behind him for 21st, and sophomore Mark Streb rounded out the scoring five for Geneseo with a 29th place finish of 26:40.

Next weekend, the Geneseo teams travel to Hanover, Ind. for the NCAA championship meet at Hanover College.

Woods said that he expects both the women's and men's team to finish in the top 10.

"For the men our goal is to reach our best finish ever at Nationals which is seventh and for the women's team if we get our top five to run together we could finish as high as fourth."