Cross-country places second at regional to SUNY Cortland

Two weeks after winning the SUNYAC tournament, Geneseo cross-country hosted the Atlantic Regional Championship at Letchworth State Park, which ended second place finishes for both squads.

With these solid performances last weekend, Geneseo became the only team in the region to earn two automatic qualifiers into the NCAA meet at Baldwin Wallace College in Ohio.

The men fell short only to Cortland on Saturday - a team they had beaten just weeks before. Sophomore Lee Berube posted Geneseo's best time ever for the Letchworth course, clocking in at 25 minutes, 2 seconds for fourth overall. Junior Ryan O'Connor finished next for Geneseo and placed 10th overall with a time of 25:31.

The team did, however, hit some roadblocks that may have altered the outcome of the race for the Knights. Senior Tim Chichester managed to finish in 13th place and third for Geneseo despite running with an illness. Also, two of the team's runners collided with a misplaced photographer early in the race, an incident which head coach Mike Woods said cost them each a few spots in the long run.

Woods pointed to sophomore Nick Pardee, who finished 23rd overall and fifth for Geneseo as one of "the big stories of the year." Pardee improved greatly throughout the course of the year, becoming Geneseo's fifth runner late in the season and posting a 40 second personal record in the Atlantic Regional. Woods said Pardee's performance of late hints at a "big future" for the sophomore.

The women's team matched the men's performance, finishing second to St. Lawrence University. Senior and SUNYAC champion Sandra Goettelman posted a time of 21:56; good enough for fourth place overall on a course not known for fast times.

Geneseo's second and third finishers were freshmen Marissa Liberati and Brigid Heenan. Geneseo's top-three performers also battled with the flu on Saturday, explaining why Woods said the team is "so steady, nothing fazes them."

After Saturday's impressive performance, the team is in preparation for the NCAA Championship this weekend at Baldwin Wallace. This will be the women's 10th consecutive trip to the big race and the men's seventh.

Although very confident in his team, Woods called the championship a "David and Goliath story," with Geneseo playing the part of the underdog. Both the men and women have worked hard to peak at the right time and now have to manage the "hype," as Woods called it, of the championship atmosphere.