Last Saturday, both the men and women's cross-country teams began their seasons at the Daniel Walker Invitational at Buffalo State.
Both squads ran at half strength, however, as the top 15 men and the top six women did not race in order to be prepared for the 2010 Harry Groves Spiked Shoe Invitational at Penn State University on Saturday. Nonetheless, the women ran very well, placing second out of 11 teams; the men finished fifth out of 10 teams.
"The women really impressed me at Buffalo State," said head coach Mike Woods. "I was elated at how well they ran." He could not, however, say the same for the men whose performance yielded more questions than answers.
"It's just going to have to be a 'wait and see process' with [the men]," said Woods, who said he was especially displeased because of the fact that some runners took a wrong turn between miles four and five.
"I saw all I needed to see at two and four miles," he said, noting that the men's performance was sub-par even before the wrong turn. "I was not happy."
Freshman Patrick Wortner was the lone male standout, finishing 14th overall to lead the Knights with a time of 26 minutes, 44 seconds. It was freshman Mary Aldridge who led the women's squad, finishing 3rd overall at 18 minutes, 55 seconds. Sophomore Erin Dorsett and freshman Celeste Hoelzl also finished in the top 10 in the sixth and 10th spots, respectively.
Despite the men's underperformance at Buffalo State, the "A" squad looks primed and ready to compete for a Division III National Championship. Led by three All-Americans - junior Lee Berube, senior Ryan O'Connor and transfer Eddie Novara - the Knights' main obstacle seems to be staying healthy throughout the season.
"I am positive that they will contend for the national championship," Woods said. "Whether they win it or not, who knows - we've got to have everybody healthy and training smart because this team is loaded with talent."
Both squads look to keep their streak of NCAA tournament appearances alive as the women have gone 12 years in a row and the men seven years in a row. "No other program in the decade and no other program in the Atlantic region has come close to those numbers," Woods said.
Geneseo's split squads will be back running this Saturday as they travel to Penn State and SUNY Brockport. For the "A" squad, the invitational Penn State will mean tough Division I competition in Princeton University, U.S. Naval Academy, Georgetown University and host Nittany Lions.