Going into this weekend's SUNYAC championship race at SUNY Oswego, the men and women's cross country teams had four specific goals: win both the men and women's team titles, and take the individual titles with junior Lee Berube and sophomore Marissa Liberati. The teams accomplished three out of four.
The men dominated their portion of the competition, placing all seven of their runners in the top 11 and winning their eighth SUNYAC title in 11 years and their second straight. Even more impressive was the fact that the Knights' fourth, fifth and sixth fastest runners were out on injury.
"We're missing three guys so I'm very impressed," said head coach Mike Woods. "But that performance is not going to win the national championship; I'm telling you that right now, not even close."
According to Woods, if the Knights want to compete for a national title, seniors Bill Juda, Mark Streb and Lee Gabler need to step up. "If they answer the bell, we're the winner. If they don't we'll go down," Woods said. "Our front three can run with anyone in the country. Nobody has a front three that can run with us."
Though he faced major competition from SUNY Plattsburg's top runner, senior Mike Heymann, Berube took the individual title in 24 minutes, 54 seconds.
"That was worth the price of admission, right there," said Woods about the battle between Berube and Heymann, who finished second. "Those two guys had it out right from the beginning."
Liberati also took the individual title for the women, setting the stage for one of the closest finishes in SUNYAC history. In the end, the women lost to SUNY Cortland by two points, snapping their streak of 10 consecutive SUNYAC championship titles.
"The funny thing was the Cortland coach [Steve Patrick] came to me … and he thought he lost," Woods said. "I actually thought we did win. It was so close."
"It hurts," said Woods about not being able to prolong the streak. "We had 10 in a row and we wanted the 11th badly but it's ancient history now. We've got to put our eyes on the prize and run a little hungrier next time."
Both squads will compete in the 2010 Atlantic Regional on Saturday, Nov. 13 at SUNY Oneonta in hopes of moving on to the NCAA tournament.