Cross-country wins SUNYAC title: Berube takes home individual crown

Shortly after senior Lee Berube crossed the finish line at the SUNYAC Championship race at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., snow began to cover the course.

An hour after race time, it was a complete whiteout.

"The worst part was the ride home. It was a white knuckle ride, that's for sure," said head coach Mike Woods about the snow-filled mountain trek back to Geneseo. Joking or not, it's revealing when the team's toughest challenge was surviving the bus ride home and not the actual race.

Snow or not, little could have stopped the men's and women's cross-country teams from running away with yet another pair of SUNYAC titles on Oct. 29. The victories marked the men's third consecutive championship and 11th overall and the women's 11th in the past 12 years.

The men in particular dominated the competition taking the first four spots in the race, finishing with a score of 17 points, two shy of a perfect race.

"The 2003 men's team finished one through five. They're the only team in the history of the meet to score perfectly and we were close to doing it Saturday," said Woods.

"That was them at their best," Woods said. "We've known all along that we could [run like that]. This was what I envisioned when I took a look at this team at the beginning of the year."

Berube led the Knights, winning his third consecutive SUNYAC men's cross-country individual title in a time of 25 minutes, 24 seconds, becoming only the third man to do so.  

"He joins a pretty elite group," Woods said. "He's one confident guy, he believes in himself and that fuels his desire to run and run well."

What's even more impressive, or scary depending on the vantage point, is what Woods posed next: "I don't think [Berube] went all-out. Seriously … am I confident that he has another gear? Yes."

Senior Eddie Novara finished second in 25:51 just ahead of classmate Mark Streb and junior Tom Clark, who finished third and fourth, respectively. Senior A.J. Corcoran rounded out the scoring finishing seventh overall in 26:18.

The men saw the SUNYAC Championship race as a chance to quell any doubts after a disappointing performance at St. Lawrence University on Oct. 8.

"This was a definite rededication of themselves," Woods said. "They all know that they did not have good races at St. Lawrence. I didn't say too much to them after that meet was over, but I just reminded them, ‘Listen, you guys are a hell of a lot better than you showed and the time to show it is at the SUNYAC meet.'"

As impressive as the men were, the women have definitely been the more steady of the two squads this season.

"They have remarkable consistency," Woods said. "They ran great at Penn State, they ran great at St. Lawrence and they ran great at SUNYACs; even when we had some people down and out, others stepped up."

Senior Alyssa Smith led the Knights, finishing third overall in a time of 22:52 backed up by junior Danae Polsin who finished fourth in 22:53. Senior Ashley Jones and junior Brigid Heenan who finished six and ninth, respectively, had a pair of career races, according to coach Woods.

"They're a coach's dream, to be honest with you," he said of the women's team. "If I tell them A, B and C need to get done, A, B and C get done. They are fun to coach, they really are."   

In addition to the players' accolades, Woods was named SUNYAC cross-country Coach of the Year for both the men's and women's teams.

Geneseo has one week off before traveling to St. Lawrence for the NCAA Atlantic Regional Championships on Nov. 12.